HENRY CLEMENS PEARSON.
James H. Earle, Publisher,
178 Washington Street.
By Jambs H. Earle.
All rights reserved.
TO MY WIFE.
I. A Lazy Resolve 9
II. A Stranger in Town 24
III. "Sam" . 37
IV. In the Saddle S7
V "One of Us" 6S
-^ A Favor 83
Vl . Kerosene as a Beverage 100
VIII. Conquered 114
IX. The Tigers Number One 127
X. Recognized 140
XL In Remembrance of Me 153
XII. Tam's Secret 167
XI I I. What the Church Did About It . . . 180
XIV. Tom's Request 196
XV. Tennis and Temperance 212
XVI. The Queer Fisherman 230
XVI I. Mrs. Bowman's Burglar 245
XVI 1 1. Pfaff's Picnic 258
XIX. The Night Gang 272
XX. Two Penitents 288
XXI. An Accident 301
XXII. Boiler Number Six 313
XXIII. Gaffney's Luck 325
XXIV. Lamson's Triumph 337
XXV. "As THE Fool Dieth " 349
XXVI. Down the River 358
XXVII. Tam's Temptation 375
XXVIII. Mr. Whitney's Proposal. 392
XXIX. Breaking the Ring 402
XXX. A Lesson in Chemistry 409
XXXI. Trying It On 421
XXXII. Results 440
^ . i5(2r7|Y • I vesol^e.
YOUNG man, in tight-fitting bicycle-suit,
was walking leisurely down one of the
broad, gravelled walks of a city park. A
little in his rear followed a half-dozen street-boys.
Huddled together, earnestly agitating something,
they appeared like an animated bale of woolen
rags, studded with blacking boxes and shocks of
towy hair. That they were discussing the young
man could not be doubted. Yet the usual street-
methods of emphasizing a debate, — with apple-
cores, lumps of mud, and gutter slang, — were
entirely absent. There was a subdued air about
them that argued respect.
"Starting an orphan asylum, Chamberlain?"
said a pleasant voice.
XO HIS OPPORTUNITY.
The saunterer turned half round, and a look
of genuine pleasure lighted his face.
"Hello, Will," he said; "glad to see you."
"Are you so distinguished that even the boot-
blacks tender you an ovation, and follow at your
heels in admiring reverence ? " continued the
"I guess so. They seem to think I am worth
Then halting, he said, "Well, boys, what is
"We seen you pull Bob out from under the
horse-car," said one awkwardly.
"An* us fellers thought we'd like ter know
where a feller like you lived. Your sort is
awful scarce 'round here."
The young man laughed.
"Here is my address," said he, handing a card
to the speaker. "Any time you or any of your
friends wish to see me, come to my home. Now
don't follow us any further, please; it will draw
The boys slowly dispersed, and the young man
and his friend passed on.
"I want you to come up to my room and
explain this little episode. It promises to be
nteresting," said the new comer.
A LAZY RESOLVE. II
A short walk brought them to a building
crowded with lawyers' offices. On one of the
doors was the name William Marshall; this they
"Now, fire away/' said Will.
"There is hardly any thing to tell," replied
his friend, with a litttle reluctance. "I was
coming up the street just before you met me,
and started to cross when a horse-car came
booming along. I hate to hurry when I have
plenty of time, so I waited to let it pass.
Meanwhile, one of these street-rats, a boot-black,
— a mite of a fellow, — who was running in the
middle of the street, dodged a 'bus, and slip-
ping, fell right in front of the horses of the
car. It was down-grade, and I saw that the
youngster would be run over, so I pulled him
"How did you get the tear in your jacket?
What means all that mud on your limbs, and
why do you hold your right hand so queerly?"
asked his friend.
"You do beat the Dutch, Will, for using your
eyes. I did not imagine I was so conspicuously
ragged, muddy, and sprained, as you represent
The fact is, when I had the little fellow well
under my arm, the pole between the horsea
13 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
knocked me down; and if I hadn't managed
to grasp it with my right hand, and allow myself
to be dragged a short distance, I 'm afraid we
should have been hurt."
**It was a splendid thing to do, and I'm proud
of you, old boy," exclaimed Will, heartily. " I
don't wonder the boot-blacks followed you. They
recognized the real grit in the action. Is your
hand badly hurt.?"
"Only sprained a little. I was on my way
here to tell you that I am going to leave the
city," said Chamberlain, adroitly turning the con-
versation, which was becoming uncomfortably full
"For the summer?"
"For two years."
"Two years! Where.?" exclaimed the other.
"That I cannot tell. If it were possible foe
me to make known to any one my destination
and my plans, it should be to you, old fellow;
but it cannot be done," was the sober reply.
Will Marshall was silent for some moments.
He loved his friend with his whole heart, and
knew that he was in the main a manly, gen-
erous, good-hearted fellow, but without any par-
ticular aim in life. Was he going abroad in
fast company, to spend his fortune in riotous
living? Was he
A LAZY RESOLVE. 1 3
"I am not going on any sort of pleasure-trip;
I am going where I shall have to buckle right
down to hard work," said the other, as if he
divined his friend's thoughts.
*' I am glad to hear you say that ; but you
are nqt ashamed of it ? " was the hearty com-
"Am I apt to be ashamed of what I do.^
Was I ever ashamed of being lazy?**
His friend smiled.
"Two years,** said Chamberlain, as if to him-
self; "by that time all my friends will have
forgotten me. I wish I could tell you all about
the matter. Will ; it is for all the world like a
fairy-tale, — but I can't.**
"But you will write .^'*
"You will receive an occasional letter from
me through Doctor Ponsonby, and any letters
left with him will be forwarded to me."
"One thing,*' said his friend, "would make
me feel that this mysterious expedition was all
right: If I knew that you had chosen the one
Friend to go with you.**
Chamberlam was silent. He looked at the
floor and then out of the window, but said
"Is it not the common-sense way, to drop a
foolish pride and do right?**
14 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"Perhaps so; but you know you said that I
must give up my wine," was the light reply.
" I simply told you what I had done," re-
plied Will, earnestly. "If I thought that by
foregoing any sort of pleasure I could save one
soul, I would do it."
"I verily believe you would, for you are gen-
erous and self-sacrificing; as for me, I'm a
crooked stick, and always shall be. It runs in
the blood. There's a car. Good-bye, old boy;
see you again Saturday."
Closing the interview summarily, the young
man ran down the stairs, boarded the car, and
in the course of half an hour was at home.
Left an orphan in the care of a busy guar-
dian when but a child, Tom Chamberlain had
not been brought up, — he had grown up as he
could. He had been sent to the best schools,
had enjoyed excellent instruction in all knowl-
edge except that which is the beginning of
wisdom. His chum. Will, was an earnest Chris-
tian, and he viewed his religion with profound
respe.:t, but when it was offered him, shook his
head. It had no charm for him. He wished to
be lazy; and that sort of life, to his mind,
As he sat in his handsomely-furnished room,
smoking a choice cigar, he drew from his pocket
A LAZY RESOLVE, 15
a letter, and opening it, began to read. It was
written in a fine, careful hand, with old-fashioned
curves and flourishes, and quaint crosses instead
of periods at the end of sentences. It read: —
** Steelville, May i, i8 — .
^'■Nephew Thomas^ — Being about to end a long and
useless life, I venture to address you. Undoubtedly
you are aware of the enmity that formerly existed
between your father and myself. If you are, I beg
that you will not let it influence you in the least in
deciding what I am about to request. I can live
but a few hours. My physician forbids me to write
"I have made a great deal of money in my life-
time. If you visit my factory you will see more than
a thousand operatives that I have gathered. They
are my slaves. I have bound them and ground them
under my heel for years. Their wretched tenement-
houses were of my building. The dram-shops were
allowed by me, and I alone am responsible for their
existence. Wretched Steep Street, where live my
slaves, is weighing me down to perdition! It is too
late for me to do anything ; my race is run. You
are the last of the family, — my dead sister's son.
Will you then take my property, take the mill, take
Steep Street, and do with it as I ought to have
done? My lawyer will call upon you soon, and ac«
quaint you with the contents of my will.
"And now, my nephew, I charge you that you be*
l6 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
Stow upon Steep Street what I have denied it. Visit
it and see for yourseU its many needs.
The young d;^n read and re-read this letter. It
was, in his life, a strange occurrence. Hereto-
fore he had taken almost everything without
surprise, until he was thought to be one of the
young Americans whom nothing astonishes. He
wondered if his uncle knew of his laziness ; of
his distaste for labor of any kind; of his belief
that, however good religion might be for others,
it could be of little advantage to him.?
What sort of an evangelist would he make ?
The more he pondered the deeper he sank into
profound astonishment. Had it been his chum
who had been chosen he would have thought it
the right thing exactly; but the idea of making
Tom Chamberlain a missionary was too absurd !
Of course he could refuse to have anything to
do with it, for he had property enough to live
comfortably; but when he reached this point he
always read the letter again, and once or twice
finished with very moist eyes.
About this time the lawyer spoken of called.
He was a short, florid man of forty-five, with
reddish hair and whiskers, and keen blue eyes
that had a look of steel in their depths.
A LAZY RESOLVE, I?
For some years, he informed Chamberlain, he
had been the confidential clerk of Robert Flint,
and agent of the file-works. He spoke of Mr. Flint
as a hard worker, an eccentric and benevolent
gentleman, but rather unpractical.
Surprised at this latter statement the listener
"My letter spoke of «ome conditions in the
"What letter?" inquired the lawyer.
"My last letter from my uncle."
"Ah, yes," was the somewhat astonished reply,
"the conditions were that you should become a
common laborer in the factory for a term of two
years, in order that you might learn the business,
and at the end of that time you should have
full control of the property, otherwise it goes to
some benevolent institutions ; but, " added the
lawyer, hastily, "you are the only lawful heir,
and in case you refuse to do as the will de-
mands, as you justly can, you may release your-
self ; I have abundant proof that the lamented
Mr. Flint was not in full possession of his rea-
son at the time he framed the document. It
can, therefore, very easily be broken."
Mr. Lamson, after these long and telling sen-
tences, wiped his moist brow with a fine hand-
kerchief and looked slyly at his auditor.
I^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"What is the condition of the factory people?"
"O, about the same as in other places like
Steelville. They are a happy, thoughtless, hand-
to-mouth people, with a fervent wish to be let
alone," was the careless reply.
" My uncle wished me to get an insight into
the whole business, did he ? " was the next
"That is what he put in the will. The con-
ditions were that you should come to Steelville,
where of course no one would know you, and
that you should begin in the * grinding room,'
learn what there was to be done there, then go
to another room, and so on. At the end of the
two years, if you have followed out his instruc-
tions, you will be declared his nephew and re-
ceive the property. Until then you are to re-
"Not much pleasure in such an outlook?" said
"I should say not, sir. It would be a dog's
life. Only the strongest constitutions can stand
it. If I were you I should think twice before
I decided to do it," was the quick reply.
"You are right," said the other, with a lazy
look that delighted the lawyer. "I have thought
twice ; once when I received my uncle's letter,
and once when you explained the conditions.
A LAZY RESOLVE, 1 9
You may expect me at the factory, as a work-
man, in one week."
With a promptness that one would hardly have
expected. Chamberlain at once began preparations
for the new life. There was a chance for ad-
venture in this affair that lent it a tinge of ro-
mance, yet there are few of the young aristocrats
of the world that are willing to step down,— -to
lower their caste, even for the novelty of it, and
he had many doubts. A return to the letter
dispelled them when they became too thick, and
the getting ready went steadily on.
At length the time for departure came, — the
good-byes to Doctor Ponsonby and Marshall were
said, and with only a valise for baggage he
started for the station. The reasons for taking
no trunk were two, — he had no clothing suitable
for work, and wished to purchase such as would
be fitting when on the ground, and, second, the
old doctor earnestly advised it. Had the young
man known that his guardian's purpose in so
doing was to make it all the easier for his ward
to return, it is possible that he would not have
been so complaisant.
When once aboard the cars and speeding on
his journey, Chamberlain had time to meditate.
His imagination, fired by the possibilities of the
whole affair, painted the strongest pictures of
20 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
drunken operatives, brutal task-masters, and close,
filthy work-rooms. Part of this the letter was
responsible for, and part, as he assured himself,
reining in his runaway fancy, was something that
he knew nothing about. Whatever train of
thought he attempted to follow, ran into a file-
factory, and he found himself,* much to his vex-
ation, planning all kinds of ways out of various
hard places, which his common sense warned him
would probably never occur.
After a long ride, as he approached the village
where the steel-works were situated, he became
interested in the conversation of two gentlemen
who occupied the seat directly in front of him.
They appeared to be small politicians, and were
unconscious that anything that they said might
be heard by fellow-passengers, or else were so
calloused that they did not care.
"The vote of Steep Street is yours at the
price named," said the first speaker.
Chamberlain pricked up his ears. Steep Street
was the factory settlement of his uncle.
"But you were to be fair with me. If I run
it must be because there is money in it. Now
I am willing to put out one dollar any time if
it will bring in two. But that I must be toler-
ably sure of. Let's see your figures."
Two heads bent over a paper and went through
A LAZY RESOLVE. 21
\yith a calculation that covered apparently thou-
sands of dollars, or of votes, Chamberlain could
not decide which, and then the document was
folded up, put away, and the negotiations con-
" If I pleased I could go in and, by the proper
use of two-thirds of the money you ask, buy the
important votes of the village," said the buyer.
"You couldn't do it. You can*t get the in-
side track of the man who holds these people.
He has them right where he wants them. There
is n*t a move in that village but he knows all
about it. To outsiders it appears like a slipshod,
reckless, unthinking mass of humanity. That 's
what it is, but a master hand is on it. Lam-
son has his thumb on every soul in the place.
He knows that as long as they are down he can
put his heel on them, and that *s why they are
" I rather doubt that. He is too pious a man
to deliberately destroy people that way. If I
am not mistaken I have heard him bitterly de-
plore the wretchedness in the place. He is tied
up in some way and cannot do any thing. You
are wrong in your conclusions, I am sure, and
i think, as you are so willing to draw the long
bow on things I know about, that it will be
wel) hr me to go slowly on this bargain. Lam-
22 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
son is no friend of mine, but I *m not quite
blind, and I say that he is just the reverse of
what you have pictured."
" Steelville ! Steelville ! " called the brakeman,
and the gentlemen, followed by Chamberlain,
got out. The latter was in a ferment. Which
of the two was right ? One of them must be
very much mistaken in his estimate of the bland
"Carriage, sir?" said a voice, which woke
Chamberlain from his reveries, and set him won-
dering what had possessed a "cabby" to ask him,
a plainly-dressed workman, if he wished a car-
riage. Something was wrong. What could it be.?
His hat was not fashionable : he had seen to
that. His suit was ready-made; his cane, — here
he stopped, flushed, and laughed. According to
the custom he unconsciously carried a cane. It
almost upset his dignity, so amused and provoked
was he, and the first hedge he came to he broke
the article in two and threw it away, hoping
that none of his future acquaintances had noticed
As was natural he promptly made his wa]^
toward the seat of interest, the mill village, in-
stead of following the stream of passengers up
the hill to the town proper. Erelong he came
in sight of the mill turrets, and then passing
A LAZY RESOLVE, 23
around a curve, suddenly stood at the foot of a
hill that was lined with houses of the tenement
stamp. The dilapidated street-sign, defaced by
tobacco quids, covered with scrawling names,
hacked, and whittled, was not needed to inform
him that this was Steep Street
24 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
e/l • Sf i»C[r)qei» • ir) • Y®^9 .
§TEEP Street was a condensation of wretch-
edness in every form. From the rotten,
river-swept sills of the houses at the foot
of the street, to the ragged chimneys at the
upper end, there reigned an air of reckless want.
The buildings were huddled together at all angles,
in inextricable confusion; the fences that separ-
ated them having vanished up the wide-throated
chimneys years before. Window-panes long since
demolished, were replaced by boards, hats, or
coarse sacking; door-latches were wanting, hinges
were broken, door-steps sunken and displaced.
Tlie yards about the houses were trodden hard and
smooth as concrete walks, by scores of bare feet.
The only signs of thrift in the settlement were
the pig-pens that, like unwholesome fungi, clung
to the sides of the houses, and mingled their
stench with the uncovered sink-drains that slid
sluggishly toward the river.
A STRANGER IN TOWN. 2$
Throughout the yards, on the steps, on the low
roofs of the swine-pens, quarreling in the street,
were swarms of ragged, unwashed children of all
ages, in every variety of filthy dress and undress.
Across the river rose the buildings of the file-
works. Even from a distance one could not fail
to notice the good repair in which that part of
the manufacturing settlement was kept. Evidently
the owner of the village saw that it was for his
advantage to do his business in an orderly, cleanly
manner, however he managed the tenements..
It was after a close scrutiny of the squalid
dwellings that a young man stopped in front of
the house at the head of the street, and asked
for a drink of water. This house had one advan-
tage over the rest : it was on higher ground and
had no sink drain running through its front yard.
There was good reason for this singularity, — no
drain being available for the purpose. A tall,
muscular woman, with sad yet good-humored face,
answered his knock.
" May I trouble you for a glass of water ? "
said the caller.
" If you '11 step inside I '11 see if we 've got
any that 's fit ter drink," she replied, with an
attempt at politeness.
Chamberlain, for it was he, followed her in, and
taking a seat in a chair which had no back and
26 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
« I I - I M
decidedly rickety legs, waited for the liquid re.
*' Stranger here ? " asked the woman.
" Yes ; I 'm going to work in the file-factory,"
was the reply.
" O, in the office, I s'pose ; clerk it ? "
" No, ma'am ; in the grinding-room.'*
His questioner looked at him doubtfully.
** My name is Bowman," she remarked, as if
his might mitigate her wonder,
" Mine is Chamberlain."
** The boys will be down on such a swell as
you," she said, after a pause. " Have you quit
a good job ? "
"Well, take my advice and go back to it.
Them slim fingers of yours war n't never made
to handle pig iron. You aint got the strength."
"What I'm thinking about especially is a board-
ing place. I wish to be somewhere near the
" Yes," said the woman, taking a ragged-edged
tumbler that had once been filled with five-cent's
worth of sham currant jelly. "Yes, you'd want
a boardin' place, sure. You look kinder stuck
up, sort of as if you belonged to the big bugs
in the town above; but if you intend to have
any peace among the grindin'-room hands, you 'd
A STRANGER IN TOWN. 27
best board somewhere on Steep Street. Ef you
should try to live up among the swells, all the
boys would be down on you."
This speech was quite a damper to the list-
ener's hopes. He had dressed plainly and flat-
tered himself that he looked quite like a laborer,
but this sad-appearing woman had known at once
that he was not used to hard labor. To be sure
she made a mistake in taking it for granted that
he was weak because his fingers were not thick
and brown. He doubted if many of the mill-
hands could compete with him on the horizontal
bar, or in leaping, running, or boxing, but, of
course, he would have to prove this to them by
deeds rather than words, if they attempted to
crowd him because of his gentlemanly appear-
The thought that he must live on the factory
street was repulsive to him. In the week that
had elapsed since his decision he had revolved
the matter very carefully, and had determined to
fulfill the trust imposed upon him the best he
could. The last words of his lonely, miserly, re-
pentent uncle had sunk deep into his heart, and
now as he beheld the abject misery of the opera-
tives, he felt a new and strange sense of pity
and responsibility. A desire to do this people
good was growing in his heart. He realized his
')wn unfitness for the work, but he also saw that
IS things were, he alone could not raise this
uass of diseased humanity up to health.
From the outset he was almost morbidly anx-
ious to get the sympathy of the operatives. When
'.he woman therefore spoke of the feelings that
•rcald be engendered if he chose himself a board-
ing place among the pleasant families in the upper
town, where there were no mill operatives, he at
once gave up the idea, and turned his attention
to the accommodations of Steep Street. As yet
he had not seen Mr. Lamson, for he had a
feeling that it would be better for him to make
all outside arrangements without asking advice.
For this feeling the astute lawyer himself was
to blame, — his manner on the occasion of his
first visit having prejudiced the young man
against him to a certain degree.
"Do you know any boarding place about here.?"
"There are two reg'lar boardin' houses down
yonder," answered the woman, pointing in the
direction in which the drains ran, " but they are
awful rough places; you would n't* git much sleep
nights. They drink and carouse almost all night
long. I was goin' to say that I did n't know
but we might be able to put ye up. What
would you be willin' to pay?'*
A STRANGER IN TOWN. 29
Chamberlain had a vague thought of twelve
dollars a week, but deciding not to state the
price, said, cautiously, —
" What should ycu charge ? "
"We should have to put it pretty high,** said
The young man mentally raised it to fifteen^
but ventured nothing.
"Would four dollars and a half be more than
you could pay.?" she asked finally.
" O, no ; I will pay that. Can I come to-night ? "
was the ready response.
"Yes, I guess so, if you pay a week in ad-
vance," she replied, a sudden suspicion being
developed by the extreme willingness of the lat
ter to pay the price named.
The money was promptly paid, and the bar-
gain completed. This done, it occurred to the
young man that he would like to see his room.
He learned, to his dismay, that he was expected
to share his cot with the landlady's son, a youth
of eighteen. An extra half dollar per week, how-
ever, secured the tiny bed-room for himself
alone, and he left to seek Mr. Lamson and
make known his arrival in Steelville, and his
plans for carrying out his uncle's wishes.
It was with a curious feeling that he stood
in the handsomely-furnirhed outer office, waiting
30 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
for the agent. From the mighty engines, ham-
mers, and rollers within the stone buildings,
came a steady roar that jarred even the floor
on which he stood. The strong men in blue
shirts, who occasionally passed him on their way
in and out of the busy rooms, the clatter of the
trucks in the packing-room, the piles of files in
neat packages, gave him a glimpse of a new
world. He felt like a Columbus setting foot
upon strange shores, where he might find almost
any kind of queer and terrible beasts, and ex-
perience dangers of which heretofore he had no
idea. Not that he in the least regretted his
decision; on the contrary, the further he went,
the more he felt that he was doing right, and
that he might yet give his uncle's slaves their
"Ah, Mr. Chamberlain, you are here I see,"
said a bland voice ; and waking from his reverie,
he saw the agent.
"Well," said he, when they were seated,
"you are still determined to carry out your
" Had you not better let me show you ovei
the place before you decide? The work is of
the heaviest kind, and intensely disagreeable."
Mr. Lamson, please understand me once for
A STRANGER IN TOWN. $1
all: I intend to carry out my uncle's wishes.
I see many young men here in the factory who
are physically weaker than I am; I know what
I can stand. I wish my incognito kept a secret.
If you showed me about the place, would it look
as if I were a common laborer.? My boarding
place is decided upon, and all I need is to have
my work assigned me for to-morrow."
*'You will at least spend this first night at
" Have you ever had any of the grinding
room help at your house over-night.?"
"I can't say that I have," was the reply.
"Then I must refuse, with thanks. I am very
much in earnest in this, Mr. Lamson; and while
I appreciate your courtesy, I must beg that from
this moment I may be to you simply, Tom
"Your wish shall be respected," said the law-
yer; but it was with a look of disappoinment
that he made the promise.
Chamberlain had said that he was very much
in earnest, and he spoke truly. At last he was
fairly roused. The covert opposition that his
uncle's confidential manager manifested toward
his becoming acquainted with the details of the
business, from whatever cause it might spring,
only served to increase his desire to carry it
32 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
through. Beyond this, however, was the honest
wish to help the operatives. He easily saw that
Lamson had no pity for, and no thought of al-
leviating, their glaring misery. Indeed, he sus-
l^ected that he should find in him ^n enemy to
all enterprises for their welfare. With new res-
olution at the thought of this possible opposition,
he determined to work alone if need be, and
effectually destroy this monument of his uncle's
sin, and build in its stead a beautiful little town-
ship of tenements that should be filled with
sober, industrious. God-fearing people.
But why God-fearing.? questioned his heart.
Because, he answered himself, they would n't be
sober, and industrious, and respectable, unless
they were God-fearing. This thought came into
his mind and took up its abode there, and was
a most powerful every-day sermon to the young
Meanwhile, Lamson stood looking at him, as
if to fathom the thoughts that were passing in
his mind. With returning suavity, he said, —
"As you suggest, it will be better for you to
enter the mill as all the beginners do, being
registered and assigned a place, and a stated
amount of pay. I see you are thoroughly in
earnest, and you may count on me for help in
the furtherance of your plans. Just step this
A STRANGER IN TOWN. 33
way, if you please, and give your name to the
After going through the usual formula, Cham-
berlain was given a "pay-roll number," and felt
that he actually was a part of the throbbing
life of the factory.
A touch of a bell, and a few words through
a speaking-tube, summoned a foreman, and placing
him in his care, with an every-day air that de-
lighted the novice, Lamson went back to his
"Don't stand staring 'round all day," said the
new boss. " Come along and I '11 set you at
work. We don't need you. There are plenty in
my room; but I s'pose we shall have to find
something for you to do. What's your name?'*
"Got any chewin'-tobacco with you?"
"Well, next time I ask you, see that you
have some. I most generally forget mine during
work hours, and have to borrow."
As a green hand, he was set at work upon
the least important jobs in the room; and he
began with the task of polishing the brass coup-
lings of a long row of steam-pipes. Around the
valve-stems was an encrustation of dirt that noth-
ing but muscle would remove, and ere long his
34 HIS OPPORTUmTY,
arms were aching and his back had a "crick"
in it. There was, however, no give up in Cham-
berlain's nature, so he toiled and sweat till the
brass looked like molten gold, and even the
crusty foreman admired. He had a suspicion, —
which, by the way, hit the nail on the head, —
that this job was a "tester," and that there was
little time spent, as a usual thing, in the polish-
ing of couplings in that room. He therefore
resolved to give his boss an elevated idea of
his capabilities, and did his very best. The noon
whistle was a welcome release, and he went to
his dinner with an appetite as good as any
laborer in the place. On his return, he found
che men grouped in different parts of the room,
lounging away the remnant of their nooning.
His advent did not appear to be noticed till
one of them came toward him with an aggressive
swagger and said, roughly, —
"You're a green hand at this business, aint you.?"
"Well, I s'pose you know the custom of the
"With regard to what?"
"With regard to what? Don't try your kid-
glove language with me. Why don'i you say,
"'Bout what?" said he, impcrturbly; «o per-
A STRANGER IN TOWN, 35
fectly copying the other's accents that the list-
eners smiled, while the questioner scowled.
"Every green hand is expected to *wet down/
—to treat, — and it's your turn; so pony up!
My name is Gaffney — Thirsty Gaffney, some call
me. I was born thirsty, and I 've been growing
dryer every year. Now I intend you shall wet
When first the insulting swagger had been
indulged in, Chamberlain had flushed angrily,
and been ready to resent the bully's demand;
but a new thought overcame his irritation, an
amused light came into his eyes, and he stood
facing the man with almost a smile on his face.
The reason was this : Gaffney stood almost
under a broad shelf that was used for the "fire
buckets," which were pails, ten in number, filled
with water, ready for instant use in case of fire.
The insurance companies were very strict in that
section, and the pails were examined and re-
filled whenever the water got low in them. One
of Chamberlain's minor chores that morning had
been to climb up and look them over. Directly
under the first of the line stood the aggressive
file-grinder. From where the young man stood,
an inch steam-pipe ran up from the floor nearly
to the ceiUng, then took a half turn and fol-
lowed the wall close behind the line of water-
3^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
pails. The pipe was cold, and the young man held
to it with one hand in a natural lounging attitude.
"I'm perfectly willing to wet you down if you
really wish it," he said.
"Cert'nly I wish it; and the sooner you do
it, the better it will be fer you," was the sav-
age reply, for the man was sure that the youth
was quaking with fear.
In obedience to this threatening request. Cham-
berlain gave the pipe a sudden vigorous pull.
As he hoped, it caught pail number one an
inch below the top and tumbled it down, drench-
ing Gaffney to the skin, and frightening him
almost out of his wits. A howl of laughter
burst from the men; and as the wrathful grinder
caught up an iron rod and started for the
"green hand," he suddenly found himself con-
fronted by a half dozen burly, laughing workmen.
" Ye brought it on yourself ! Ye asked fer it '
Let the lad alone ! " they shouted, and the bully
slunk away, for once unable to sa)^ he was "dry."
"That's the best *wettin' down' that ever any
green hand gave. You'll do, me boy! We are
proud to have you in our room," said a man
who had been particularly surly that morning.
"I'm mighty glad I hired you. This will learn
them file-grinding hands not to try to pick on
us sorters," said the foreman.
fN the office of the file-works sat Mr. Lam-
son. On all sides beautiful finishings, the
oaken paneling, the handsome desk, and the
stained-glass door, bespoke the thriving business.
The gentleman, although at the head of the firm,
and lord of the gem of an oflSce, did not seem
content. A restless, dissatisfied look that partook
also -of perplexity, expressed itself in his features ;
something was wrong. One so schooled in compla-
cency as the crafty lawyer, would not worry over
nothing. Touching a bell he summoned a boy.
"Call Sam," he said.
In a few moments a tall, broad-shouldered man
stood blocking the doorway. Six feet three in
his stockings was Sam Putnam. Among all the
strong men who worked in "the iron," he was
the most muscular and the best proportioned.
In his scant working clothes, which consisted of
a short-sleeved undershirt, dark blue pants, and
3^ ms OPPORTUNITY,
slippers, the bulging muscles swelling on arm and
chest, he looked the personification of strength.
" Come in and close the door," said the agent.
"There is no one near. I dont want to be
cooped up in that little pen, " returned Sam,
The gentleman flushed and frowned, looking as
if he were about to give some sharp command,
but instead said, —
" How does young Chamberlain come on ? /*
"All right," was the short answer.
"Does he really learn all he is set at, or is
he shamming ? "
" O, he learns thoroughly enough. Works as
if his life depended upon it."
" Do the men like him } "
"They always like any one that minds his own
" How do you take to him, Sam ? " was the
next question, accompanied by a searching glance.
The giant returned the look with a half con-
temptuous smile, saying, —
" I think he is a likely chap. Deacon ; a trifle
too pious, perhaps."
" Pious ! You don't know him," exclaimed the
" Hump I Perhaps you do," was the reply.
"Sam," said the agent, impressively, "if this
• SAAf. " 39
young Chamberlain learns the whole business, it
will be the worst thing that ever happened to
you and me.**
" What do you mean ? **
" I can't explain, but remember this, he is here
for a purpose, and if he accomplishes it, you and
I and some of the rest are going to be much
the worse for it.'*
"I suppose you would like to make a second
Tam of him.?" remarked Sam, with a return of
the old ironical smile.
A look of hate sprang to Lamson's face.
"How many times have I told you never to
mention Tam to me.?** he said, angrily.
" A good many times," replied the other, with
Lara son grew white with rage, but the looks
that he turned upon the imperturbable figure in
the door were entirely without effect.
"Speaking of Tam, is he still about the mill?*'
said the agent at last.
"Well, I won't have it,** exclaimed Lamson,
breaking out afresh. "He is no use here. He
is a positive damage. I won't have him around
here any longer."
" When he goes, I go,'* remarked Sam, with
a gleam in his deep-set eyes.
40 ffIS OPPORTUNITY.
"Sam," said Lamson, suddenly regaining his
self-poise, "we cannot afford to quarrel. We are
necessary to each other. Now it would please
me exceedingly if you would accede to my re-
quest in this matter, and allow me to remove
Tarn to a place where he could be cared for,
and where he would be much happier than he is
here. Perhaps, too, he might be curea."
The giant always felt ill at ease when his
employer addressed him in court phrases. He
therefore remained silent.
"You surely won't object?" said Lamson.
"But I will. You hate the sight of him, and
no wonder; but you had better not lay a fmger
on him. Tam is going to stay," said Sam, with
Turning on his heel the man strode away,
muttering angrily to himself.
The agent closed the door with a slam, and
began pacing the office floor with a most dis-
agreeable frown on his brow. He was accus-
tomed to success when he attempted to manage
men. He understood Sam perfectly, yet he could
not twist him as he did many others. The thought
made him exceedingly wrathful, so much so that
few of the acquaintances of "cool Lamson" would
have recognized his changed face, had they hap«
pened in upon him just then.
Sam had called him " Deacon " with a scorn-
ful emphasis that brought the blood to his cheek
and the fire to his eye.
So the help know it, do they, he thought
" Deacon Lamson ! " That sounds well, does it
not? Yet his cheeks burned at the thought of
the comments of the men. In the town above,
where were churches, schools, and wealthy fam-
ilies, it had caused no surprise when he had been
elected deacon of the largest church. He even
had felt a deal of self-gratulation, and possibly
the shadow of the shadow of a thrill of piety
and resolve for future usefulness. Down in the
mill village, however, it was entirely different.
There he was known. To be sure the deceased
owner of the works was still blamed for the
misery in the desolate tenements, and for the
grinding of the operatives. ** Old Skinflint," as
Robert Flint was generally called, was still hated,
and his memory often cursed, but little by little
the keen-eyed sufferers were discerning the fact
<;hat smooth-spoken Lamson was perhaps a little
harder, and more merciless, than the owner had
been. When it was knov/n that he had become
deacon there was a breeze of comment through-
out the mill village.
" I tell yer, my fren's,'* said Gaffney, from
the steps of " Hole in the Wall," the popular
42 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
saloon, " he deserves to be a deakin. Ain't he
got caperbillities in the way of bein' a cheatin',
lyin', slippery deakin ? Course he has. He 's
bound for the Kingdom, he is, 'cause he owns a
pew, an' a hymn-book. A pew is a reserve seat
for Heaven ; a hymn-book is the check for it. 1
don't blame him. I 'd be a deakin myself, if I
had money enough. Here comes Sam Putnam,
my fren's, an' I invite you all to take a drink
at his expense, with this sentiment: 'Health to
Most of the dwellers on Steep Street agreed
with Gaffney that Lamson was fitted to be a
deacon, which to their minds meant a hypocrite.
They felt that it was a move either to pull wool
over the eyes of his fellow-men or the Powers
above; either of which, to their misty minds, was
deemed equally possible.
There were to be sure a few faithful hearts,
cowed by a fruitless struggling against the pre-
valent unbelief, who secretly cherished the hope
that the new dignity might be a forerunner of a
reign of justice, but they were soon disappointed
Their longings were never expressed in words,
and no one but the great and pitiful Searcher
of hearts knew of the faith-germ that ever and
anon quickened with vague hope.
One result of the honor which had been be-
stowed upon Lamson had been that he was there-
after called **the deacon" from one end of the
village to the other, and with the same con-
temptuous intonation that Sam Lad used when
summoned to the office. Another result was the
aversion that the majority of the people held
toward the church was intensified. It was per-
haps a quiet hatred that they bore toward the
congregation who had honored their oppressor,
but it was none the less real.
As for the people in the town above, they
were entirely unconscious of the feeling that ex-
isted among the factory folk. When any kind
of mission work was undertaken by them, it
failed, unless bolstered up by picnics, festivals,
and entertainments ; and when these were re-
moved, there was found to be not an atom of
religious interest. There were those in the upper
town wlio honestly grieved and prayed over this
state of things, and who used all their wisdom
to overcome the apathy into which the people
were plunged, but their efforts were singularly
unsuccessful. Nor was the reason ever suspected.
It is but simple justice to say, that if Mr. Lam-
son's true character had been known, he would
never have been received into the church. In
the upper world he was kind, charitable; to all
Appearance, "full of good works." Many times
44 HIS OPPORTUmTY.
he was heard to deplore the state of things on
Steep Street; and it was generally understood
that through some clause in the will of Robert
Flint, who had been an outspoken church-hater,
there could be nothing done, at least for a terra
The mill people, believing all others knew Lam-
son as well as they did, but shut their eyes to
his* true character, because of his wealth, de-
spised and hated the church, as they did the
agent, and joined hands in vowing enmity to
Among those who learned that the lawyer was
a deacon, was Chamberlain. He also was fully
enlightened as to what the people thought of his
fitness for the position.
About this time he was absorbed m serious
thinking. Although not a professing Christian
himself, he had a high respect for such men
as his friend Marshall. He knew that there were
disciples of Christ whose very presence in that
village would be a protest against the prevalent
sin, — an overwhelming rebuke to such professing
Christians as the grasping agent. The thought
that the whole settlement was so given over to
the service of Satan, that all actually believed
that there was no goodness, no real piety, noth-
ing but hypocrisy among the well-to-do dwellers
SAM. ** 45
of the upper town, — was a great burden to the
young man. It seemed as if every knee had
bowed to Baal, and he stood alone in his respect
for the religion of Christ. Of course he was
wrong in this, for there were a few who, crushed
under the prevailing wickedness, forced to spend
all their energies in a bitter struggle with pov-
erty, yet called upon the name of the Lord.
Of their existence he knew noihing, and he
really believed that from one limit of the settle-
ment to the other, all ages and sexes were in-
dulging in a frantic rush to destruction. Among
other plans for the mitigation of this state of
affairs, he seriously meditated sending to a mis-
sionary society for a laborer to come among
these people. A talk with one of the more in-
telligent of the "puddlers" dispelled the idea.
**A missionary!" the man said in amazement.
"What for? There isn't a soul here will take
any stock in one. Folks know too well the hum-
bug of the whole thing. If any one wants to
convince me that they believe in the Bible, and
all that, let them do as it says, — let them live
"Would not a missionary do that?"
"Yes, if he was hired to. A man will do
*most anything for a salary. Now let me tell
you, young feller, if you have been gulled into
4^ HIS OPPORTUAVTY.
thinking there is a shadow of truth in what these
folks try to force on us, you are deceived. I
have made this a sort of study, and as far as
I can see, the ministers are a pretty good set
of men; they are paid to be. A low-down,
sloven, drinking parson would n't stand any show
at all, and they know it. So you don't want
to look there for your examples ; but you want
to look at the people that profess to believe as
the ministers do, and yet don't get no pay for
it. Look at them, and what do you see?"
"Some hypocrites, and some good, earnest
men who would lay down their lives before
doing a mean or a wicked thing," replied Cham-
"Not much," was the bitter reply. "You find
a set of grasping, hard-fisted, stuck-up fellers,
who grind the life out of such of us as are
under them; who cheat and lie about bargains,
and who pretend to be one thing and are some-
thing else. I am only telling what I see every
day. If you can bring a Christian who can run
a mill like that down yonder, and deal justly
with his help; who will live himself as his Bible
teaches; who is charitable and generous, and who
values human beings a bit above the profit they
pay hira in their daily work, — I'll believe, and
not till then."
•• SAAf. " 47
.Chamberlain groaned inwardly. The great want
was apparent: There was need of an earnest-
follower of the Master, who should live a se
mon, not preach one. There must be such in
Steelville; yet they were as far removed from
this people as though an ocean flowed between.
The man's argument caused the missionary idea
to drop out of sight.
Would it be possible to get Marshall to come
and live in this community ? He hurried to his
boarding-place and wrote a long letter to his
friend, sealed and directed it, and then after a
long struggle with his own thoughts, destroyed
it. All of the long Saturday afternoon he
thought and planned. There must be some way
out of this. On him rested a heavy responsi-
bility — a legacy left by his repentant uncle.
More and more the burden weighed. All day
long Sunday he wrestled with the problem, and
could see no way out. When the spirit of the
Lord is striving with man, no compromise will
answer; and Chamberlain, although he taxed his
ingenuity to the utmost, found no solution except
one, to which he would not for an instant
listen. Yet this suggestion, no matter how often
hurried out of his mind, came back and whis-
pered its tender invitation over and over again.
At the time that he was so sorely tempted to
4^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
put all responsibility upon the shoulders of others,
a fellow-workman, — a file-grinder, — also tempted,
was, by the guiding of God's Spirit, being led
toward the light.
Twenty miles from Steelville was a city of
some size, where those of the file-workers who
could afford it, went on occasional sprees. Once
or twice a year select parties took the Saturday
night train and spent a riotous Sabbath in the
slums of the city, returning on the "Sunday
night freight." From one of those parties that
had already wasted one-half of the beautiful
summer's day in carousing, two men detached
themselves, and straying into the city park, sat
down to talk. The younger of the twain was a
man of forty odd years; healthy, vigorous, yet
bearing the marks of dissipation. A costly meer-
schaum between his teeth, he sat and smoked,
waiting for the other to speak. Ever and anon
he took the pipe from his lips and looked at it
with that admiration that inveterate smokers are
wont to bestow upon their idols. To him this
pipe, a present from his companion, meant com-
fort and ease. It was the only valuable he
owned. With a longing for the good things of
life, which his friend possessed, he looked at
the pipe and rubbed it as if it were an Aladdin's
lamp, and would fulfil his wish.
The man by his side was in every way more
diminutive and much older — if the bleached ap-
pearance which pervaded his whole person could
be truly taken as an index of increasing years.
The two began to speak on indifferent topics,
in which neither appeared deeply interested, yet
to which both clung, as if feeling that the power
of conversation would forever leave them if not
encouraged by some sort of votive offering.
From factory topics they drifted to horse-racing;
from that to the latest variety at the lowest
theatres ; from that to the Sabbath excursions,
and from this topic, which approached the near-
est to the religious of anything, they swung
around upon one which seemed at once to
awaken their interest.
"I tell yer," said the lesser man, with an at-
tempt at energy in his attenuated voice, "there
is lots of money in it. No other business makes
such profits. Why, there 's Mulhern, that 's in
the city council here, and was once a sweeper
for Lamson! I remember when he bought his
first barrel of beer and started selling, and now
look at him: He's just rolling in money, and
has got the finest saloon in the city! Then
there 's Bill Guesclin ; look at the position he
occupies! He stands a fair chance for being
mayor one of these days, and ten years ago
50 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
he kept the meanest little rum-hole in the vil-
lage, next to yours. I tell yer, Temple, if only
a man drink light, and sell fair, he 's sure of
fortune. I 've got the cash and the experience,
and you understand the grocery-business ; there
is your hold. You can run Pfaff under ground
in a month. I '11 back you in good shape, and
no one will know it either."
"The fact is, I don't want to sell rum," said
the man, a flush rising to his face.
"O, pshaw!" replied the other; "you make me
tired. A feller that '11 drink rum the way you
have, and that '11 go the rounds and be into
everything from a gin-mill to a prize-fight, and
that 's slept under the bar many a night when
he was too drunk to get home, — to be afraid
to sell rum, is more than I can understand."
His companion winced perceptibly, but made
"Now, look here," continued the smaller man;
"IVe got the papers right here in my pocket,
and if you want to know it, they 're all signed,
too, so sure was I of getting your consent. All
that is needed is to settle on the profits, and we
will set you up in less than a week. No more
file-grinding for you. I will guarantee two years
from to-day you '11 have as much money as any
of them, and be able to own just as fine horses.
« SAM, " 5 1
and have things as good, as Lamson has. Why
should n't you have a profit out of this as well
"I tell you, I don't want to sell rum," said
the man, but less positively than before.
"Well, what are you going to do? Grind files
till you get so bad a drunkard that they '11 fire
you out, and then go to cleaning out spittoons,
and washing bar-room floors, and hanging 'round
for the slops that are left in the bottoms of the
beer-glasses? You're proud, I know, but you ain't
no prouder than lots of fellers that have come
to just that same thing."
"Where are the papers?" said Temple, brokenly.
With a thin, white smile, the man drew them
from his pocket and handed them over. His
fingers trembling, and his eyes blurred by sudden
moisture, the other took the documents, and
slowly openmg them began to read, his com-
panion watching his every move with a keen-
ness that none would ever have guessed him to
be able to command.
During the conversation, two men, in citizens'
dress, and of quiet appearance, had come down
one of the broad paths of the park and now
stood quite near. One of them mounted a mound
of earth, opened a hymn-book, and began in a
dear, pleasant voice to sing.
5^ ffIS OFPORTUNITY,
At first, when the words of the song rang
out on the still air, Temple moved his head
impatiently, and crumpled the paper with a ner-
vous grasp, as if protesting against this interrup-
tion to his thoughts ; but as the song proceeded,
the frown gradually faded from his heavy brow,
and the document appeared forgotten, as he
listened with increasing pleasure. Not to his
ears alone had the song come, for from all parts
of the pleasure-ground, rising from recumbent
positions in the shade, leaving the rustic seats,
breaking from gossiping knots of smokers, young
men and boys, and some whose heads were gray,
were converging toward the spot.
"Why don't you read?"
There was no answer.
" Say, is it a bargain ? " continued the other, after
a lengthy pause, and holding out a shrunken hand.
But Temple rose suddenly, brushed him aside,
and lounged up to a better position for hearing.
His companion followed, and ere long they were
wedged into a dense crowd that had collected
in front of the turfy rostrum. The reading of
the Scriptures followed the singing, and then
came brief remarks; and by the time the ser-
vice was a half-hour old, there had gathered two
thousand people. As Temple glanced around over
the faces, — many of them seared and scarred with
sin; many old and wrinkled; a few fresh and
young, — thoughts came to him to which he had
long been a stranger, and of which his compan-
ion never dreamed. Seeing the gravity that had
settled over his chum's face, his friend thought
to relieve it by chaffing the preacher, so in his
husky voice he called out, —
" Oh, give us a rest ! '* looking about for
approval, and was much surprised to see on
Temple's face a look of contempt, such as he
had never before encountered. A few loafers
who laughed weakly at his outburst, and who
gathered closer to .>enjoy whatever fun he might
be able to produce, afforded ^him little consola-
tion. The experiment was not repeated, and the
services went on.
Nearly an hour had passed when the little man,
who was thoroughly weary of the whole proceed-
ing, suddenly made a momentous and alarming
discovery. Looking down upon the ground he
saw protruding from beneath Temple's substartial
boot-heel, the stem of his costly meerschauni.
"Jack," he said, in a horrified tone, "you are
smashing your pipe."
There was no reply.
"Say, Jack," tugging at his sleeve, "you Ve
got your foot on your pipe, man, and yo'o 11
smash it all .to flinders 1 "
54 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
With a sudden, strange glance, Tempi** turned
and looked into the face of the man whom for
two riotous years he had called "friend." Then
grinding the pipe more deeply into the gravelly
earth, and setting his lips firmly together, he
bestowed his whole attention upon the chapter
then being read from the Bible.
Aghast, subdued, utterly overcome, by this most
eccentric behavior, the other stood, not knowing
what to do, and wishing most heartily that some
policeman would make away with the disturbers of
his peace. But none did so, and the agony went on.
Finally, the last song was sung, the last word
spoken, and the two preachers, descending from
their improvised pulpit, departed as quietly as
they had come, and the congregation as quietly
resumed their favorite and usual lounging-places.
" Pretty long-winded fellers, are n't they } " sug-
gested the liquor-dealer, as they walked away
toward the depot.
This remark received neither rebuke nor appro-
bation, and another was ventured upon.
" Say, Jack, I s'pose you 've 'bout made up your
mind to come into that, have n't you } Of course
it ought to be settled this afternoon."
Temple turned and again looked at his com*
panion with the same gaze he had bestowed upon
him during the service, and then he said, slowly, —
" Ed. Crabtree, you Ve known me for two years,
— known me pretty well, — can you tell any good
of me ? "
"Why, yes," was the startled reply.
"Well, don't you do it, because lying is some-
thing I everlastingly abominate," said Temple,
with decision. "But, look here, that proposition
is for me to join you in setting up that bar-
room ? "
" And I was going to do it > "
" Yes," with an eager intonation.
" I had almost shaken hands on it, when that
fellow began to sing ? "
" Yes ; it was about the same as settled," said
the other, with a satisfied accent.
" Well, now let me tell you, since I Ve heard
that reading, and that speaking, and that sing-
ing, I Ve changed my mind. Sooner than be a
Steep-street rumseller, I *d live as the rats do, on
the best picking in the garbage-barrels. Sooner
than make other men what I have been and you
are, I 'd travel the streets from morning till night
as a broom-pedler."
" Why, them fellers did n't talk temperance."
" I know that," was the energetic reply, " but
what they did talk made me remember who I
was, and what my father was. Those songs they
5 6 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
sung brought back the old Connecticut homestead
that I, since father's death, have poured down
my throat and the throats of other fools. The
chapters that were read, brought back to me my
godly father, the deacon, whom everybody loved
and respected, and who would no more do a
wrong thing than he would lose his own right
arm. And, I tell you, when I remembered all those
things, I made up my mind that if it was sell-
ing rum or starvation, I 'd starve ; so that 's your
answer, and here 's your papers, and now get ;
I don't want to see you again to-day ! "
There was a ring in the voice that admitted
of no argument, and the liquor-dealer, accepting
the fact, left, while Temple, his face flushed with
excitement, waited impatiently for the night
IN THE SADDLE. $7
li) • f r)e • ©ciaale.
i^HAMBERLAIN had been a workman for
\§^ several weeks. He now felt assured that
he could, without injury to his health, stand
almost any work in the place. Mr. Lamson and
Doctor Ponsonby had predicted that he could not
endure the hardships to which he would unavoid-
ably be subjected, — that he would find the work-
men coarse, illiterate, and quarrelsome, accustomed
to severe labor, jealously demanding that all in
their company share alike ; that he would be
obliged to work, fight, swear, and drink with the
worst, to make himself even tolerable to them.
These statements he found to be greatly overdrawn.
The men were profane, were hard drinkers, and
settled many differences with their fists ; but, as
a rule, they allowed a noisy man to be noisy,
a quiet man to be quiet. Strangers of a peace-
able turn of mind were not molested.
Chamberlain had adopted the regulation sleeve-
less flannel shirt, and dark pantaloons belted
5^ ' HIS OPPORTUmTY.
about the waist. His lithe figure looked well in
this costume, and his white arms, symmetrically
developed by gymnasium practice, brought many
rough compliments from the workmen. Unac-
customed though he was to labor and self-denial,
he did not find it especially hard to spend ten
hours a day in the factory. He went into
the work with a vim that was altogether unusual,
and provoked amusement among the men.
In taking his place he had been obliged to
ans^-er questions as to his past life, but although
his replies were wordy and amply satisfied the
questioner, the actual information obtained was
'sneagre. They learned that he had been at school
•ap to his entry into the file-works, and that
information, while it accounted for some of his
peculiarities, made him of importance in settling
minor disputes. On the whole, therefore, the
young man had been well received, and was
pleased with the prospect of the two years' ad-
venture to which he had now fully determined
Zo treat himself. In addition to this was also
the often-present thought of wretched Steep
Street. It was his to renovate, and he vowed,
if it were within the bounds of possibility, to
make it one of the best-ordered streets in the
town. In this he was honest, but as yet, little
knew the task that lay before him.
IN THE SADDLE. 59
His work at the end of the third week was
"grinding files." In the great " grinding-room "
were, in a long row, ten grind-stones ; not the
diminutive stone that one sees in the farm-yard
or carpenter's shop, but monsters weighing tons.
Above each was built a wooden-saddle, on which
the grinder sat, as the stone whirled swiftly
between his knees, smoothing the rough file-
stock into proper shape for "cutting." The
work of grinding required considerable skill,
and, as a rule, only the older hands were
allowed to do it ; but he had shown such
aptitude, that as a special favor he was assigned
a place and allowed to grind with the rest.
As he bent over his work one afternoon, the
perspiration standing in beads on his brow, and
mingling with the splashes of slate-colored mud
that flew in all directions, he heard near him
a clear, feminine voice. Glancing down he saw
Mr. Lam son and a young lady standing close
by. The agent, with marked politeness, was
explaining the machines and processes to his com-
panion. With some curiosity Chamberlain looked
at the latter. She was strikingly beautiful.
That she was the daughter of wealth and cul-
ture, her dress and manner at once proclaimed ;
and that she regarded the men about her as of
different clay from those whom she knew as
6o HIS OPPORTUNITY.
friends and associates seemed probable. Appar-
ently she thought the young aristocrat to have
been born to the work, for he received the
same well-bred look of carelessness that the rest
He was a trifle chagrined that his patrician
bearing even in the wooden-saddle should not
be recognized; yet, beneath his disappointment,
he laughed at his own absurd pride. He was
not wont to worry about the good or ill opin-
ion of young ladies ; but for some reason that
he did not seek to explain, it would have greatly
flattered him to receive notice from this lovely
visitor. Her lack of discrimination wounded his
self-pride, even while he recognized his own fool-
From Lamson's attentions, it was plain that
the lawyer was very eager for her good opin-
ion ; but whether or not she was pleased with
him was not apparent.
The men in all parts of the room looked at
the visitor admiringly. She seemed insensible
to the compliment which their eyes were pay-
ing, and observed them with the same quiet air
that she bestowed upon the queer saddle-covered
stones. Hitherto, Chamberlain had believed that
he should never feel ashamed of any honest
calling, but now for the moment he felt awk
IN THE SADDLE. 6l
ward and out of place. With strong mental
protest at his own foolishness, he bent to his
work, grasping the file with so much force that
when it came in contact with the whirling
stone, a large spatter of mud flew from it,
striking the young lady full in the face. Cham-
berlain was aghast.
In response to her startled exclamation, the
agent turned >yrathfully toward the stone, but
seeing who was the aggressor said nothing. In-
stead he proffered his handkerchief, and the stain
was quickly wiped away. From the wave of
crimson that flooded the young lady's cheeks, it
was evident that she was vexed. Mr. Lamsoa
apologized as well as he could for his awkward
workman, saying that he was a new hand and
careless, and that he should be reprimanded.
Had Chamberlain been himself and in his
own clothes, he would at once have apologized
gracefully; but in a workman's garb, his face
smeared with mud, his hands covered with huge
leather-mittens, he felt like a boor, and could
no more frame a fitting excuse than could any
of the callow apprentices of the place. He
therefore sat and blushed, smarting under the
indignant glance that he had received when
Lamson had said that it was "sheer '^.areless
62 mS OPPORTUNITY.
A little later the visitor passed from the
room, all chance for apology was gone, and he
felt as if he should never have the courage to
go into society again. The courtesy which he had
formerly known so well how to bestow, seemed
to belong to the good clothes he had discarded.
"Say, Chamberlain," said one of the men,
halting before his stone, "did you douse that
Whitney gal a puppus?"
"Why, Miriam Whitney, the agent's gal. You
spattered her, didn't you?"
" Yes ; but it was an accident ; I ought to
"Humph, I'm glad you didn't. She's too stuck-
up to live. She looked as if she would like to
have seen you hangin' fur it. Should n't wonder
if she made the boss fire you," returned the
"Oh, I guess not," was the reply, and the
other moved off.
"Miriam Whitney," thought he; " "a pretty
name. So she is the agent's 'gal,' is she?"
"Say, the boss wants you in the office at
wunst," said the sweeper, appearing at that
"I told you so. The deakin never gives a man
his black look twice."
IN THE SADDLE. 63
With much wonderment, Chamberlain walked
directly to the office, and stood before the glass-
paneled door of Lamson's sanctum. Within were
two ladies ; one the fair girl whom he had spat-
tered, and an older lady. The agent's face dark-
ened when he saw him.
"What do you wish?" he said harshly, open-
ing the door.
"You sent for me," replied Chamberlain, a
" You are mistaken ; I did nothing of the kind.
If I had, there is no excuse for your appearing
here covered with mud and filth."
"The message said *at once.'"
"That will do. You were not sent for. Re-
turn to your work," was the stern reply.
Chamberlain realized that the little sweeper had
played a joke on him, and he replied, —
"The next time your special messenger comes
for me, I suppose I need n't notice it } "
"Chamberlain," replied the agent, "remember
you are only a common laborer here. Go back
to your work, or I shall summon the day watch
man to remove you."
This was said in a low, intense tone; and the
other, realizing at once the power that this man
had, and the consequences that would surely fol-
low open rebellion, swallowed his wrath and
64 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
walked back to his work. Poor fellow, he was
more excited than he knew, for when he mounted
his stone again, his hand trem.bled so that he
could with difficulty work. What could be Lam-
son's thought in so insulting him } Up to this time
there had been only kindness and sympathy.
Was it anger on account of the awkwardness
that caused that trifling accident? or did the
shrewd lawyer intend to humiliate him till he
rebelled and left } The ferment in his mind was
not in the least allayed when the foreman c/f
the room came along and shouted savagely, with
a string of oaths that made him shudder: —
"What kind of work are you doing up there,
you college idiot? Look at the face of this file!
Don't let me see any more of that, or you '11
get down and go to sweeping again. Now
Chamberlain made no reply. He recognized the
work as some of his, done since the accident,
and saw that it was faulty. There came to him
the thouglit, that the foreman spoke to few of
the others as roughly; and certainly, if he were
a judge, their work was fully as often badly fin-
ished. Was not this part of a train of humilia-
tions purposely laid to explode the magazine of
his temper? With a firmer purpose and a cooler
head, the young man set himself harder than
IN THE SADDLE. 65
ever at work to turn out the best file-stock in
the room. There never had been any complaint
as to the quantity accomplished, — now for the
quality. One thing rejoiced him so much that
it took away nearly all of the sting of the re-
buke, and that was, that under this sort of train-
ing he could not help but be the best workman
in the room. When they had been easy with
him, and smoothed his path, and granted him
half-holidays unasked, it was much harder to be
faithful and conscientious in his labor; but now
with every faculty on the alert, with jealous eyes
on him, eager for opportunities to reprimand, he
progressed finely, and above all, with grim de-
termination, kept his temper.
"You had better leave,^' suggested one of tne
more friendly of the men. "Swinert will never
give you any peace. He hates you for some
reason or other, and when he gets down on a
man, it 's all day with him. Give in your notice ;
you can get a job somewhere else."
" I guess I '11 stay a while longer."
"Well, you are a fool if you do. No other
man but Gaffney would stand what you have.
Next thing the boss will do will be to strike
"Swinert strike me? Oh, no! I guess not,"
was the confident reply.
66 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
"Why wouldn't I strike you/* said a new
voice, and the foreman stood in front of him.
"If you will listen, I will tell you," said Cham-
berlain, assuming a confidential air. "In the first
place, you are too noisy a man to be dangerous,
A man who exercises the muscles of his jaws
so constantly as you, never does much telling
work with his hands."
"Look here, you '*
"L'ave the lad explain; you invited it," said
one of the men.
"Yes, let him go on, it 's the noon hour; you ain't
boss now," said others, and Chamberlain continued.
"In the second place, you are all broken up
through rum and tobacco. Physically, you are a
wreck. No doubt you were once a strong man,
but you are now a very weak one."
The man made a movement forward as if to
carry out his threat, but the bystanders restrained
him, and the lecture went on.
"In the third place, you lack one essential,
which I doubt if you ever possessed, and that
is, real grit. No plucky man will hit a boy as
you struck the sweeper yesterday. No brave man
will curse a woman as you cursed your own
sister at the mill door last week; and lastly, no
one but a ruffianly coward will be bought to
drive another man out of the mill."
JN THK SADDLE. 67
At the last shot, the man turned white, and
as the whistle blew, hurried into the factory.
The men dispersed, discussing the matter and
casting ugly looks at the door through which he
In the middle of the afternoon, ostensibly to
examine his work, Swinert drew near and said,
"For Heaven's sake, Chamberlain, don't spread
that report; the men will mob me! I have a
wife and five children to support. Don't ruin
"It depends on yourself. Do what is right,
and I will see to the men; and remember — I
am here to stay."
68 mS OPPORTUNITY.
i^ TJJOLE in the Wall," the popular groggery
^Bl of Steep Street, was the evening resort
of most of the able-bodied men of the
settlement. The proprietor, a short, stout man
of German-Irish parentage, named Pfaff, was said
to be wealthy. In addition to his stock of liquors
he kept a small grocery, which, occupying the
room directly in front of the groggery, gave am-
ple opportunity for sly drinks. His customers
embraced most of the adults of the village, and
indeed some of the children might be so called,
as they invariably tasted the beer which they
carried home by the pitcherful. Pfaff was thought
a very jolly fellow, — a trifle obstinate in his
opinions, but generally as fond of friendly con-
verse as he was of American dimes. He was
ever ready to drink with his guests, at their ex-
pense, and on rare occasions "stood treat" him-
"^ONE OF US* 69
Not only in the mill village, but in the town
above, Pfaff was noted for the excellence of his
drinks. For this reason numbers of the liquor-
loving from the upper settlement frequently
dropped in to taste "Jacob's Best," and the fact
was enlarged upon by the liquor-dealer with loud-
voiced pride to the evening loungers.
The laborer, in a factory where the water is
poor, is like the desert traveler, often morbidly
thirsty. The wells in the file-works furnished
water that was brackish and hardly fit to drink.
The homes on Steep Street were not better off.
The people used the water for washing, but no
more than was absolutely necessary. In drink-
ing it was frequently neutralized by a portion
from the family bottle, in the proportion of one
part of water to three parts of liquor, and some-
times the hurtful water was entirely left out.
It had naturally come to pass that a special pre-
judice existed against it in the minds of the vil-
lagers. If any one was sick, it was laid to the
water. Every ill seemed to have its origin in
the unwholesome furnishings of the wells. Had
it been within the bounds of reason, there is
cause to believe that most cases of delirium
tremens would have been traced directly to "bad
water." This being the case, it was not strange
that Jacob Pfaff grew rich and bloated; that men,
TO HIS OPPORTUNITY.
women, and children drank his beer and other
liquors ; that the traces of excessive drinking
were on masculine countenances, otherwise intel-
ligent and manly; on feminine faces, that, free
from it, would have been womanly and attrac-
rfaff had no sign over his door, but he had
many a sign through the hamlet. What were
the old hats stuffed in broken windows, the filthy
door-yards, the noisome fumes, the bloated fathers
and mothers, the rickety children, the rags, vice,
and squalor, but Jacob Pfaff's signs } The people
did not read them thus, however. Their thought
was " the water is bad ; we must drink some-
It happened one evening, as Chamberlain was
returning from work, he was overtaken by one
of the grinding-room hands with whom he had
often spoken. Pleasanter and better informed
than most of the men, he had taken pains to
give timely and valuable hints about the work.
These he appreciated and remembered, as John
Temple joined him, and the thought gave an
unusual cordiality to his greeting. As they came
in sight of "Hole in the Wall" the new-comer
began to speak of the excellent beverages sold
there. Perhaps the German name had something
to do with it; but the speaker asserted that
''ONE OF US.** 71
no saloon he had ever patronized furnished such
thirst-quenching liquor. Jacob, he said, had just
renovated his bar, and now the place was clean
and wholesome, wouldn't Mr. Chamberlain come
in and try a glass }
Our friend, as we know, was not a teetotaller;
he believed that it was right for any one to
take wines or beer when they wished, provided
they did not overdo the matter. Indeed this
had been impressed upon him by his guardian
when he was quite young. Only a few times
in his life had he tasted liquor over a bar,
and then in the company of those who were
considered high-toned gentlemen. The invitation
that he now received was, for the moment, a
puzzle to him. He had no sympathy with those
who guzzled liquor as did the people who pat-
ronized Pfaff; yet, here was a file-grinder, a
gentleman in his way, asking him to drink with
him. With no religious scruples to bring for
ward, no excuse to offer, for he instinctively ac
knowledged that were it in a first-class hotel,
and his companion a society man, he should say
yes, he consented, and for the first time, an(?
with a feeling of shame-facedness that was entire!;'
new to him, entered the saloon and went up to
The proprietor saw the new face and be-
7^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
stirred himself. A fresh customer always roused
him to an awkward politeness, — a courtesy fla-
vored with cupidity.
While Chamberlain waited for his glass, a
hand was laid on his shoulder, and a rough voice
"Well, if here ain't Chamberlain, our youngest;
the chap that the boys said was pious! They
did n't know ye, did they, lad ? "
It was Gaffney, who apparently had forgotten
the "wetting-down," and was now as dry as
"I told 'em," continued the man, keeping his
hand on the young man's shoulder, to steady
himself, "I told 'em to hold on and wait till
ye showed yer hand ; I felt from the first that
you was one of us."
Chamberlain set down his glass untasted.
"Drink your beer, don't mind Gaffney," said
" Yes, drink it, it is good ; never mind Gaff-
ney," echoed the dealer.
"Thank you, I don't think I wish for any
now," was the reply; a strange gravity settling
over the young face.
" Perhaps there is something wrong with it ;
shall I draw another ? " asked the proprietor a
""ONE OF US."* 73
**No, I thank you," was the positive reply,
and Chamberlain moved toward the door.
"Fernald," close the door for a minute," said
The door was instantly shut, a couple of men
stood against it, and the youth was a prisoner.
With a flash in his eyes he turned toward the
The latter had come out from behind the
bar, and now stood expanding his chest and
looking fierce, in front of his fastidious customer.
" I intend to know why you came in here
and called for my beer, and then refused to
drink it ? " he inquired aggressively.
"I think he saw a fly in it and it sickened
him," interposed Temple, anxious ^to avoid
*as that so.?" asked Pfaff.
" No," answered Chamberlain.
"Well, what was it?"
"Tell what it was then," echoed the loungers.
"I had always supposed that a man had a
right to enter any sort of store and examine
the goods, and that he could purchase or not
as he wished," was the reply.
"Well, he can't do it here," replied the
other. "I don't care for the price of the beer,
but I don't intend that any man shall stick up
74 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
his nose at it; you just drink that glass, or
give me a good reason for not doing it, or I '11
wipe up the floor with you.'*
Chamberlain was young and fiery ; a threat
was to him like a whip to an untamed horse;
his pride was roused ; he despised bar-room
rows, but he could not allow a bully to insult
him thus. His friend whispered, " take your
beer, don't be a fool." The loungers drew
nearer to see the young upstart punished for
At this stage of affairs, a door back of the
bar opened and Sam Putman came in.
" Holloa ! what's this ? " he inquired, his eyes
lighting up with interest.
"Why," said Jacob, "this young fellow says
my beer ain't fit for swill, and he's got me to
draw it, and now is goin' off without drinkin'
" Did he pay for it ?'* asked Sam, throwing
one leg over the bar.
"Well, it's his then, ain't it?"
"Yes; but "
"Then I don't see as it*s any of your busi-
ness what he does with it," was the cool reply.
"But I intend to make it some of my busi-
ness," replied Pfaff, excitedly. "I don't allow
*ONE OF C/S." 75
no man to throw mud on me and then rub
it in this sort of way."
" If you touch that young fellow," said Sam,
measuring his words slowly, " I '11 throw you out
of the window into the river.'*
•*Well, let him get his beer off my counter,
and out of my glass," sputtered the other;
but Gaffney had attended to that, having quietly
finished the troublesome liquor.
As Chamberlain continued his walk with his
friend, the latter began to question him as to
the cause of his sudden aversion to the glass
of liquor. At first the young man's replies
were unsatisfactory ; he gave no reason for his
strange conduct, but on being pressed he said, —
"Did you hear Gaffney speak to me?"
"Well, he said when he saw me with a glass
of liquor in my hand, *now I know you are one of
us ' ; that is what the trouble was. * One
of us ' ; what did that mean ? It did n't mean
that I was one of the workmen who could
hold his own at 'the forge, or on a grind-stone
or over the furnace. It meant that I was one
of the drinkers ; one of the men who go on
a spree every Saturday night, who can't live
from one week's end to the other without
drink; who are a curse to themselves and
76 If IS OPPORTUNITY,
their families. That was what it meant ; I saw
it all in a flash, and I could no more sign
such a compact, by drinking that glass, than I
could commit murder."
" You are excited,'* said his companion in a
queer muffled tone.
" Perhaps- so ; but if I am, I am sure of this,
that I will never taste another drop of liquor
in my life. I sec clearly now ; there are but
two sides : those who drink and those who do
not ; the drunken and the sober."
** You are right," replied the other in a low
voice, ** keep your resolve. You have no appe-
tite to fight ; never allow it to waken."
" I am not so sure about not having any
appetite ; I have always been accustomed to
wines, and at times stronger liquors, and I
doubt not I shall have a fight of it, but I have
tasted my last drop." .
"Would to God, I could say as much," ac-
knowleged Temple, with a groan, and at once
Chamberlain, who had been engrossed with his
own resolve, awoke to the struggles of another.
"Come up to my room," he said, drawing the
other's arm through his. Reaching the tiny
apartment, he threw open the blinds so that
the evening breeze came in and cooled their
*ONE OF C/S." 77
" Were you in earnest in what you said ? " he
" Yes, but it is of no use. I am made
of weaker stuff than most men. Over and over
again have I resolved to stop drinking, but
I can't do it," was the reply.
** Why don't you sign the pledge ? " asked the
"I have several times.**
"Do it again; make up your mind and stick
"No use,** was fhe reply.
To the best of his ability, his friend cheered
him up; trying hard to give him more faith
in his own power of resistance. Finally Temple
"There is but one thing that can save me,
the religion of Christ. I was well taught when
I was young; I know the way, but strange
though it may seem to you, I am not willing
to give up to it."
What could Chamberlain say.^ Could he advise
others to flee from the wrath to come while
he stood still and braved it ? Surely not. Yet
his heart was stirred by this man's trouble ; he
longed to help him. It was like watching a
man drown without stretching out a hand to
73 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
When his visitor had departed, Chamberlain
did not go down to supper. Instead, he sat
alone and communed long with himself.
Finally, as the town-clock struck eleven, he
arose, went down stairs, and out into the night.
A short walk brought him to the lodgings of
his friend. He found that he had not yet retired.
His message, whatever it was, brought the tears
to the other's eyes, and soon two earnest souls
were kneeling side by side, entreating forgiveness,
and cleansing at the throne of grace.
That night Tom Chamberlain and John
Temple began life anew. The glorious sur-
render had been made. Two hearts had been
won; two who had, but a few hours before,
been identified with the sin and misery of Steep
Street, of whom the drunkards could say, "you
are of us," had crossed the line, and were
rejoicing in the love of a new and all-power-
ful Master. With great joy in their hearts they
communed one with the other, knowing that
they would be "epistles known and read of
all" in the factory and out. The test of true
and right living would be most rigidly applied
to them. It must be a whole consecration or
none at all. Without discussing the question,
Temple swept the pipes and tobacco from his
shelf and threw them out of the window.
**0^E OF US,"* 79
Not noting the flight of time, the two friends
sat and planned for the future. The fields were
white with harvest, and they were the laborers.
It was a responsibility to which too few young
men awaken. They felt their own weakness, —
their own inability to cope with the powers of
darkness so stoutly entrenched in the valley be-
low, — yet to them was the promise, "Lo, I am
with you alway."
The first gray tinge of morning was showing
itself in the east when Chamberlain went back
to his room. As the day broke, he sat at the
open window — very happy, very peaceful. He
felt that the knowledge of his sin, the burden
that he had carried about ever since he awakened
to the condition of Steep Street, was now gone.
Like a runner freed from a load, he had such
freedom as only Christ can give. As yet he had
sent no word to his friend in the far-away city
home. Perhaps it had been in part because there
was nothing to tell but what he was bound not
to divulge. Now, however, he had news that he
knew would make Marshall happier than any
other message that he could send, so he sat
down and wrote, in a few simple sentences, of
his decision, of his great joy, and of the friend
who had at the same time been born into the
Kingdom with him. In conclusion he earnestly
So HIS OPPORTUNITY.
asked him to remember them both in his prayers,
as they sorely needed wisdom. This was enclosed
in a letter to Doctor Ponsonby, and mailed at
" Good land ! Have you had a fortune fall to
you } ** asked Mrs. Bowman, as he came into the
kitchen with a very happy look.
" I guess so ; a fortune that you can have
too, if you wish," was the reply.
"Well, if there is anything good that's free,
I *d like to know it, for I 'm right there," said
the landlady energetically shaking the fire.
" Salvation 's free," said the young man.
"Look here young man, I ain't muck ou i*
ligion, and I spose you know it, but I don't
never allow anybody to make fun of it in my
presence. Joke just as much as you please in
the right way, and I '11 enjoy it when I have
time; but don't make fun of things that some
"God forbid that I should do anything of
the kind. I was in earnest, for last night I
gave my heart to the Lord, and I believe he
has washed away my sins," replied Chamber-
"Do you mean to say that you have honestly
and truly experienced religion } " was the as-
''ONE OF US.'' %\
** Well, I never. I hope it will L\st ; it 's
dreadful to be a back-slider ; that 's v/hat I am.
You never get no comfort out of life while
your a back-slider. I ain't been a happy Chris-
tian for a good many years, not since Rob was
born ; and I 'm sure I 've suffered enough on
account of my short -comings. I've got so
hardened that I durst not pray; but Mr. Cham-
berlain, won't you pray for Rob?"
There was a pathos, an entreaty in the voice
that went to the young convert's heart. Poor,
erring Rob.!* The only son of the widow Bow-
man. Easily led, full of good resolutions, abound-
ing in broken promises; the tool of the smarter
loungers in the village.
"We can both pray," said he, and they knelt
on the kitchen floor and prayed. First, Cham-
berlain offered a faltering petition for the erring
son, and the strong muscular woman by his
side sobbed like a child, and added a few words
of her own at the close.
"Be you a Methodist, Mr. Chamberlain?" she
enquired, wiping her eyes on her apron.
"Why, I don't know; I had hardly thought."
"I thought 'cause you kneeled down maybe
you was a Methodist; you know the Congrega-
tionalists always stand up when they pray."
^^ ^IS OPPORTUNITY,
Not feeling like discussing the different cus-
toms of denominations just then, Chamberlain
was silent, and breakfast being ready, they sat
down to eat, after which the lateness of the hour
compelled him to hurry away to the mill.
A FAVOR. 83
§N an elevated plateau overlooking the fac-
tory street was an old-fashioned mansion,
surrounded by ample, well-kept grounds. The
general atmosphere of the place was that of
respectable old age. A departed generation built
the house, laid out the grounds, planted the
trees, sowed the hollyhocks, and no modernism
had re-arranged their works. Between the estate
and the straggling line of tenements a high board
fence, capped with spikes, was erected, as a "thus
far and no farther" to the juvenile apple-hunters
of the village below.
The estate was owned and occupied by a
maiden lady. Miss Louisa Whittier. Like it, she
belonged to the past. The last of the Whittiers,
she held scrupulously to the faded customs of
the race, as she did to the rusty silks and bom-
bazines that filled her attic trunks. None of the
Steep Street people knew her, and few of the
84 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
dwellers in the upper town were at all intimate,
although her wealth and blue blood entitled her
to more than usual consideration. She attended
the North Church, of which Mr. Lamson was
deacon. She was not, however, a member of the
" Ladies* Charitable Society," " The Woman's
Temperance Club," or "The Home Missionary
Bureau." She was therefore, to many of the good
ladies, a comparative stranger. Nevertheless, in
spite of her negative qualities. Miss Whittier
gave largely to the charities above named, and
was regularly at church.
It was with a knowledge of most of these facts
that Chamberlain lifted the brass dragon 's-head
knocker on the front door of the Whittier man-
sion, and dropped it with a clang that smote
upon the quiet interior like an alarm of fire.
There was a bustle within, a glimmer, as if a
lamp were lighted to banish the fast-gathering
shadows, a rustle, the door opened, and the lady
of the house stood before the young man.
She was tall, with lovely white hair, a plain,
shrewd face, and gray eyes that had the least
glint of suspicion in them.
Raising his hat, he said, —
"Is this Miss Whittier?"
"Can I see you for a few moments?"
A FAVOR. 85
The lady gave him a quick, keen glance. He
had used the usual introductory phrase of the
''Pardon me, but have you anything to sell?"
" No, madam," replied he, quietly, although with
The lady saw it, and said, —
" I am sure you will excuse my question when
I tell you that almost every stranger who calls
here has something to dispose of. Some of them
are positively insulting in their pertinacity. It
is they who have made me suspicious, and per-
haps inhospitable. Will you walk in, sir.?"
Chamberlain followed her into a square, stiffly-
furnished parlor, and accepted a chair, his hostess
seating herself on a sofa opposite him. At his
left a door opened into a second parlor in which
there was no light. By a window at the further
end he could just discern a white-clad figure.
From the graceful curves and careless posture,
he decided that it was a young girl. She seemed
not aware of his presence. Meanwhile Miss Whit-
tier was regarding him with a courteous what-is-
it,-sir? look that required him to speak.
"I will state the object of my visit as briefly as
possible," he said, in response to her mute interrog-
ation. " I am in the employ of the File Company."
S6 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"Indeed/* said Miss Whittier's eyes, "you had
better have been a peddler," but her lips remained
" Since coming here I have seen the wretch-
edness of Steep Street till it seems as if I could
stand it no longer. I believe I know the whole
story of the misery that hangs like a cloud over
the settlement, — I know every rum-hole.*'
"Undoubtedly," said the eyes.
"And I think I know of a way to alleviate
these evils. I must, however, ask your assistance
in carrying out my scheme."
"I think," was the cold answer, "that I have
all the charities on hand that I care to encour-
age ; yet, if you will show that your plan is a
good one, I will contribute five dollars."
"You misunderstand me. I ask for no money.
Let me explain. The mill people, many of them,
drink beer, cider, ale, and stronger liquors, be-
cause there is nothing else to drink on the
street. The wells furnish poison. The people
dare not drink it. There is, and has been, ab-
solute suffering on this account. I have been
here several months, and all I have tasted has
been rain-water from a hogshead cistern. Now,
my proposal is to furnish good water for the
mill people, and wash the taste for poisonous
liquors out of their mouths."
A FAVOR. S;
"I doubt if it can be done. And even if it
can be, is it not the duty of the File Company
10 do it?" replied the lady.
"The Company will do nothing; of that I am
assured, and unless others do it, this suffering
must continue,'* was the quick reply.
*'Can it be done?"
"I think so," said Chamberlain, earnestly, "for
this reason : The ridge upon which your place
is situated extends to the next village, . where
the formation of land is nearly the same as here.
In that village is a driven well that flows hun-
dreds of gallons of pure water daily. Were such
a well at the head of this street, it would amply
furnish all the tenements."
"What is your proposition?" asked Miss Whit-
tier, trying to hide her interest.
"I thought," said he, hesitating a little, "that
if you would sell, for a reasonable price, a spot
in the lower part of your garden, large enough
for the well, that I should like to buy it, and
try the experiment."
"Young man," interrupted the lady, suddenly,
"did the File Company commission you to talk
this up to me?"
"They did not; nor has any one in the com*
pany the faintest idea that it it thought of,"
was the prompt reply.
SS mS OPPORTUNITY.
"You knew, perhaps, that the tenements were
built close up to the line of our estate to
gratify a grudge that the Company held against
"I did not."
Miss Whittier mused a few moments.
"How much would the well cost?" she said,
"The man whom I consulted, offered to do it
for one thousand dollars, and take the risk,"
"That is considerable money."
"It is with regard to the money that I wished
to ask a favor of you."
There was a movement in the next room, and
the visitor wondered, uneasily, how much of an
audience the darkness contained.
"I wish to put the money in your hands, and
have you close the bargain and pay the bills,"
"That is a very extraordinary request. Pray
why do you wish it? Have you yet collected
"The money to be used was left me by my
father. I shall collect from no one; and I ask
you to pay the bills that I may not be sus-
pected of doing it."
"Really, I don't understand it. Why do you
wish to hide the deed?" inquired Miss Whittier.
A FAVOR. 89
"I am, as I said, in the employ of the File
Company, if they know that I do this, the
consequences will be unpleasant, — that is the
reason. Now will you grant me the favor, and
keep my secret?"
Instead of answering, she called into the next
"Will you come here a moment?"
The occupant of the lounging-chair at the fur-
ther end of the second parlor, rose and came
forward into the light.
"Have you been listening to our conversation,
my dear ? "
"Parts of it," was the languid reply.
"What do you think of it?"
"I don't see why you should care; you can
put the money into the hands of your lawyer,
and let him pay the bills."
"Perhaps you are right," was the answer.
During the short conversation. Chamberlain
had been closely observing the young girl.
When he heard the name Miriam, it sent his
blood with a bound to his heart. At once he
felt that the fair girl whom he had so awk-
wardly spattered with mud in the grinding-
room, was about to appear again; nor was he
90 ms OPPORTUNITY.
mistaken. She stood in the doorway, looking
fairer than when he had for the first time
acknowledged the power of her beauty. She
bestowed upon him a well-bred glance of in-
difference, and then turned her attention to her
aunt, as if he were not present. The same
anger that had possessed him before, when she
had rated him as a file-grinder, for an instant
came over him, and then, with a firm setting
of his teeth together, he crushed it.
She glanced again at him, as the determined
look so plainly stamped itself upon his face. It
interested her, and following the new impulse,
she said, —
"Will you introduce me, auntie?"
Miss Whittier complied with no little aston-
ishment, after discovering afresh what the sur-
name of the young man was.
The young girl sank into a huge chair, and
said to him, with a witching glance,—
"Is it not very dangerous working in the
file-factory, Mr. Chamberlain?"
"In some parts it is," he replied.
"I visited the works recently and saw all the
departments. Some rooms were dreadful, — full
of steam and heat, — and others had terrible
machines in them. It seemed hardly possible
that men could work there every day for years."
A FAVOR. 91
"There are some very powerful men there,"
"They all drink, do they not? Mr. Lamson
said the works brutalized them so that in a few
years they were little better than beasts."
"That is entirely untrue. Many of the men
love their families, are honest, and upright."
"Yet, Mr. Lamson should know about this,"
*'He does know," was the reply, with unmis-
The expression of mischief that had lighted
the young lady's eyes when the conversation be-
gan, was replaced by one of offended dignity.
Rising, she said to the other lady, —
"Will you excuse me, auntie?" and swept
from the room.
The caller also rose to go; as he did sOp Miss
Whittier, looking him full in the eyes, said, —
"Mr. Chamberlain, will you tell me honestly
your motive in trying to help this wretched peo-
ple on Steep Street?"
With a blush, and voice trembling, Tom wit-
nessed the confession so new to him ; and how
hard it was, only those who have fought the
battle and conquered, can ever know.
"Because, madam, I have started out to serve
the Lord Jesus Christ. I am but young in the
92 ffIS OPPORTUNITY.
service, and perhaps not over-wise ; but it seemed
that this sin-stricken street needed help, and
such help as I can I shall give,*' he said.
The lady held out her hand and gave his a
"I am glad you told me. Your secret shall
be safe. But do not try to hide your profession.
Do you attend church here.^" said she.
He mentioned having attended the North
Church; and as he left, the lady again shook
hands and cordially invited him to call, and
also to sit in her pew whenever he attended
In passing out, he saw Miss Whitney in a
hammock that swung by the path. In the darK-
ness he could not tell whether or not she ac-
knowledged his bow. Feeling much as if he
had again thrown mud at her by his eager
awkwardness, he walked slowly down to his
Full of his project, and anxious to impart to
his friend the successful termination of his ne-
gotiations. Chamberlain hurried to Temple's
boarding-place. The latter listened in silence
until he had finished, then said, —
"Don't you think you are putting out your
money rather freely for a laboring man.^"
Chamberlaixi colored. It had never occurred
A FAVOR. 93
to him that his friend might consider his action
at all Quixotic.
"I believe this to be a practical and safe in-
vestment,'* he replied.
"I don't know about that. That amount of
money put into a store would pay you interest
if nothing else; but this well, which I should
fear will never furnish much water, seems to me
a visionary undertaking."
"I believe it can be successfully made. The
man who bored that in the village below is sure
"Of course he is; it will be a couple of hun-
dred dollars in his pocket to have that convic-
tion. But really, it does not seem to me that
it is actually necessary. There are wells on the
How much these remarks discouraged Cham-
berlain would be difficult to tell. The thought
would obtrude itself that he might be wrong,
and that the Steep Streeters perhaps neglected
water from choice, rather than from necessity.
It would be possible even now to gracefully
retire from the whole undertaking. The co-oper-
ation of the conservative Miss Whittier had
been most grateful to him. Yet, he was enough
of a man to refrain from carrying a project
through for mere pride's sake.
94 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
** I will tell you,** said his friend, noting the
disappointment expressed on his mobile face
"we will investigate this matter. I may not
be a judge. I rarely drink water; never did
even before I acquired a taste for the stronger
liquors. We know where most of the wells are.
Let 's test the water by taking a drink from
"I need no further conviction as to the bad-
ness of the water, but am very willing to con-
vince you. We will do it," agreed the other.
The succeeding day, as they came home to
dinner, Forsyth's well, at the foot of the street,
was visited. A tin pail, weighted by a stone
attached to a clothes line, was the only means
of drawing the water.
"You fellers lost something down there.?" in-
quired the owner from his seat on the door-
"Oh, no; we are going to have a drink,"
"A drink! a drink! Has Pfaff failed.? or are
you going to commit suicide? Here, hold on,
till I get the bottle and sweeten it for you."
"No, thank you; we wish to try it and see
how bad it is."
" Well, it *s as good as any about, but it 's
rank poison for all that. I believe, on my word,
A FAVOR. 95
that there is more typhoid fever to the glass
in that water than in any other in the country.
Help yourselves ; the more you take, the less
there is left."
"Smells rather rank, doesn't it?" remarked
Temple, sniffing at the yellowish-colored liquid.
" Drink away ; smells go for nothing on Steep
Street," was the reply.
Most conscientiously the investigator took a
few sips and then poured the rest away, remark-
ing as he did so: —
"I think this well is poisoned by the drains
that have soaked the ground full of their filth.
Let us go further up the street and find a
k place where there is no such accessory, and I
believe the water will be pure and sweet."
"Why is it not good in the works.?"
"I think it is. Most of the men prefer beer
or something stronger. Few know how the
water does taste; I must confess I do not.
You remember the day yQu were so thirsty,
when we went into *Hole in the Wall?' even
that day I did not touch a drop of water."
A short walk brought them to the head of
• the street, and abreast the Bowman cottage.
Passing through the narrow lane that separated
it from the adjoining tenements, they approached
one of the rear dwellings. Mrs. Hidden's door
9^ HIS OPPORTUNITY,
Standing wide open, emboldened them to
"Can we have a drink of water?"
''•Indeed you can," was the widow's hearty
response, pouring out a glassful and handing it
Chamberlain passed it to Temple, who raised
it to his lips. As he did so, a burning flush
swept over his face, and seemingly by a violent
effort, he set it down, saying in an unsteady
" There is liquor in it, is there not } "
" To be sure ; it would give you the cramp
without. That won't hurt ye; the children drink
it every day."
" I wants a d'ink," lisped a little one, tod-
dling up and receiving a liberal portion of the
doubly poisoned dose.
**Is James Hidden your son.?" inquired Cham-
berlain, a thought suddenly coming to him.
"■ He is that, although it 's ashamed I am to
own him, the dirty, little drunkard ! What would
his father — God rest his soul — say if he knew
what his boy had come to?"
*'I don't see what else you could expect.
You probably fed him on this liquor and water,
until he got an appetite."
"Of course I let him drink it. Sure, he would
A FAVOR. 97
have died of the cholera if I hadn't. What
else could I do ? "
"Whatever else I did, I would not bring up
my children to be drunkards. That little one
there loves it already, and in a few years will
be as bad as Jimmie," said Temple, still severely
smarting from his own temptation.
"We can't die of thirst, whatever comes. If
there was decent water in the village there
would be no need for us to take the whiskey.
The mill folks could give us good water if they
chose. When my man first came here, he had
a plan all made for using the big engine in the
file-shops to pump water from the river into a
reservoir upon the top of the hill, and to do it
nights ; and they would n't hear to it, * on ac-
count of the cost. It 's them that makes us
drunkards ; and it 's little they care, either, as
long as the dividends are regular."
"Then your husband was a temperance
man ? "
"My husband never tasted liquor till he came
here. The village we lived in before was a good,
healthy place, and the boss took some interest
in the people. He would n't allow a drop inside
of his fences. The work-folks there were decent
and respectable, and went to bed nights mstead of
howling about and breaking each other's heads.
9^ HIS OPPORTUNITY,
We would n't have staid here if my man had n*t
been killed by the machinery.'*
" You seem to be discontented, but your neigh-
bors are well enough satisfied," remarked Cham-
"Satisfied!" almost screamed the woman;
** that's all you know about it. There's more
broken hearts among the women-folks of this
street than there are broken heads among the
drunken husbands, and that 's saying a deal.
The worse a person is, the worse they feel.
There are many of them that have tried, time
and time again, to get out of this, but they
can't do it. People made a great noise about
the poor, black slaves down South, and let the
white slaves up North alone. Lamson is the
slave-owner of this village, and Pfaff is his
" But one can leave,"
"Can one leave? Who will hire him when
they know he comes from this village? You
young men think you are free, but just try to
spread your wings a little and see how soon
they are clipped."
The " warning whistle " had already announced
that it was time to start for the factory, and
the two were obliged t© hurry back without
A FAVOR. 99
" Are you satisfied as to the need of pure
water here ? " inquired the younger man.
" I am, and more. I am appalled at the dan-
ger the children are in. How blind I have
been. How can godly people rest nights when
close to their homes are scores of little ones
being trained up to fill drunkards' graves. Put
the well through, and God speed you ! Would
I had something to add to it. But stay ; only
a few are to get the benefit of this after all."
" Why ?"
** Those at the foot of the hill won't go clear
to the head of Steep Street for water."
"No, but the water will willingly come down
to them," was the laughing reply, and without
further explanation he entered the factory and
began his afternoon's work.
lOO HIS OPPORTUNITY.
/gHHAMBERLAIN spent the day following his
S^ call upon Miss Louisa in planning. While
busy with his work his mind was teeming with
schemes for the welfare of the mill folk.
Many of the measures suggested by his fertile
brain were visionary. The future was painted
with the bright colors that youth, health, and
imagination, untutored by failure, are wont to
portray. Had he watched his friend Temple, he
would have seen that he also was deep in day-
When the visions grew less real, and the two
awoke to the life that was pulsing about them,
a strong desire came over each to take the other
into his confidence, and as the whistle blew, an-
nouncing the end of the day's work, Temple
hurried over to Chamberlain and said, —
"Wait for me; I have something to tell you."
Leaving the works a little behind the herd
KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE lOI
of supper-seeking operatives, they walked slowly
" I have been thinking," said Temple, eagerly,
"that Pfaff has had things his own way long
" You see he controls the trade of the file-
hands. Not only in liquors, but in almost every
line. That little variety-store of his contains about
all the people use, except meat and fish. His
prices are very high, and his goods second rate.
He is king of the village, and some say that
Lamson gets a share of his profits. I can't swear
to that, but I do know that every other store-
keeper in the settlement has in some way been
crowded out a few weeks after starting, and to
my mind Lamson did it."
" It 's a shame," said Chamberlain, hotly.
"I have been contriving all day how to over-
come this state of affairs, and I think if I had
a little capital I could fix things so that a second
store could be maintained in spite of Lamson."
"How would you do it?"
"Well, to begin right, I should leave my job,
file-grinding. Every one so far who has started
a store has been obliged to work in the factory
during the day, and keep open evenings, and
just as soon as they were fairly under way,
I02 ffis OPPORTUNITY.
Lamson would dismiss them for some pretended
offense. Then their rent would be raised, and
some of Pfafif's friends would run up big bills
and refuse to pay them. Windows would be
broken and goods stolen, till the parties gave up
and moved away, after which Pfaff would flourish
"What a rascally piece of business. I should think
the authorities in the upper town would stop it."
"They don't care what is done," replied Tem-
ple, "and besides, Lamson is a big man up there,
and what his hands do is referred to him. He
makes a show of indignation, promises investiga-
tion, and that is the end of it."
" Now about your plan 1 "
" It is this : I would lease one end of " Bug
Palace" for two years, without telling Lamson
what I wanted it for, — that would prevent any
raise on the rent. Then I would stock the lower
room with such goods as are most salable here.
I understand that part perfectly, as I was clerk
in a country store for years before I took to
drinking. I should put out some money on
shutters that would n't be easily broken. I should
sell for cash to doubtful customers, and give
credit only to those whom I knew were willing
to pay. Finally, to total-abstinence families I
would sell goods at cost."
KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. IO3
"Pay people to be temperate ? " was the sur-
" Yes ; pay them to let liquor alone, if need
be," replied Temple.
*'I don't know about the wisdom of that. By
the way, how much money would you need to
start a store } "
*'I can tell after a very little figuring. It
would not be a very large sum, but, small as it
is, I can never hope to handle it. O, if I had
the money that I have paid for poison, it would
be doubly sufficient."
Some time after this conversation a freight-
wagon stopped before one of the doors of "Bug
Palace," and, unloading a heavy blue cask, drove
away. It was directed to Temple, and was rolled
by him into the room that he had selected for
a store. Of the stock that he had purchased,
this barrel was the first arrival. For several
weeks the gossips of Steep Street had puzzled
over Temple's strange behavior. The rumors of
the manner in which he was changing the filthy
room into an apartment redolent with paint and
whitewash had been circulated, repeated, and en-
larged upon. It was generally believed that a
billiard and liquor -saloon was to be opened.
Pfaff smiled at the idea. Not that he doubted
the opening of such a place, but he was assured
104 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
from the beginning of its failure. When the
gamins reported that a cask of some kind of
liquor had been rolled into the place, all doubt
was laid aside ; and those whose scores were
heaviest at the old stand, determined to favor
the new dealer with their patronage.
Among them was Gaffney, whose persistent
thirst, even on Steep Street, provoked many a
rough joke. During the day mysterious boxes
arrived and were deposited in the new store.
The whole settlement was on the qui vive.
Gaffney, urged by his one mastering passion, de-
termined to be the first to ** christen" the
saloon, and taking a quart bottle, started up the
street. The other topers, with the curious eti-
quette that holds among them, decided to stay
away until the "opening."
Temple was within, unpacking a case of
goods, when a heavy knock fell on the door.
He opened it and confronted Gaffney.
" Good evenin* and good luck ; so you *re
starting a store?" said the latter heartily.
"Yes; but I am not ready to sell anything."
"Oh, that's all right," said his caller jovially,
pushing his way in and seating himself on an
empty box. "Houly Moses, but you've got the
room as clean as a biled-shirt ! Would n't ye
like me to help ye a bit, now ? "
KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. IO5
" Thank you, I guess not," was the reply.
"xVha! ye don't trust me," said the other
with a laugh, " but ye do me wrong ; I 've re-
formed, I have. I have left off drinking, and
I 'm goin' to live honest and pay me bills ;
what have ye in the bar'l } "
" Kerosene," replied Temple.
"Kerosene," shouted Gaffney with a huge
laugh " Well, by the houly poker, but you 're
a cute one. Kerosene — I s'pose they call it that
because it makes men light-headed.?"
Temple laughed ; not that he comprehended
the other's insinuations, but from sheer good
"So you have actually reformed.?" he inquired.
" I have that," was the prompt reply. " Now
you may not believe it, but I emptied the liquor
out of this bottle, and was going to the store
to have it filled with kerosene for the old
"Indeed," was the suspicious reply.
"Yes, sir," said Gaffney earnestly. "The old
woman and I would be very glad to try your
kerosene as long as you have a fresh bar'l.
Maybe it would give you good luck to have us
for your first customers. We spend lots of
money in the course of a year."
"Gaffney," said Temple, taking the quart bot-
I06 ffiS OPPORTUNITY.
tie and going behind the counter, "you under-
stand that this is kerosene ? "
**Why, bless your heart, man dear, certainly
I do," was the delighted reply; "and any man
that tries to make me believe it *s anything
else, will have a tough job of it. You may
As he was his first customer, Temple did not
accept the coin that was ostentatiously fumbled
br, and the purchaser went away with his heart
full of gratitude.
A number of Gaffney's boon companions saw
nim come out of the new saloon with something
under his coat, which they were sure was a
oottle, so they at once joined him.
" Did he treat } " was the inquiry.
" He did that, and right generous."
"Pass it *round," was the general suggestion,
" He made me promise that I 'd drink his
good health myself, afore I give any one else
a sup of it," said Gaffney, backing up against a
building. " So here goes ; here 's to the new
saloon and its owner; may he live long and
prosper! When Pfaff kicks us out we'll trade
with Temple, and when he fires us, we '11 go
back to our first love."
Throwing back his head, and raising the bot-
tle to his lips, he took a draught.
KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. IO7
An instant later the bottle lay broken in the
gutter, and the drinker, coughing, spitting, and
swearing, was making his way rapidly toward
the doctor's, followed by a hooting crowd.
As one result of his visit to Temple, he
<vent to bed sober for the first time' in a month ;
ilthough vowing dire vengeance upon the villain
who had "pizened him."
When Temple's project was fully under way,
ind the people really knew what the policy of
the new store was to be, it provoked much
comment. There was no dearth of customers,
most of whom, in these first purchases, paid
cash. One and all loudly denounced the rum-
selling grocer, and vowed their unalterable in-
tention of patronizing the "Temperance-store."
A large number of those who made this resolve,
and who often reiterated it, loaded the air with
fumes that strangely belied their words, and that
caused the new grocer strongly to suspect them
of being tools of his rivals. He accordingly
kept so close a watch that none of his goods
were missing, although much unnecessary han«
dling was indulged. All things considered, he
had reason to be gratified with the success that
had already been attained in the few hours of
the store's existence. Aware of the close sur-
veillance to which all in the village were sub-
108 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
jected, Temple knew that Lamson must be in
formed of his enterprise. Much to his surprise,
the agent had asked no questions, and raised
no objections when he had given notice of his
intention to leave the works. Neither had he in
any way attempted to check him in his enter-
prise. As sanguine as most men, the new
grocer imagined that things had been so well
planned as to cause him to feel that there was
no use in combating him.
About the time he reached this wise conclu-
sion, the lawyer was sitting in his private
office, talking earnestly with the village consta-
ble, a man who was elected through his influ-
ence, and was one of his tools.
"A seizure is the thing now; only it must be
well devised, and kept quiet until all is ripe,"
"You are not in earnest about raiding Pfaff,
too.?" asked the man, with a ring of incredulity
in his voice.
"I am. First, you will go to Temple's and
discover the jugs and bottles; then you may
take the other place, and get what you can.
Then give young Averill all the points for a
half-column article. Let him talk pretty strong
on my efforts to crush the infamous traffic, etc.;
KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. IO9
**Yes, sir; but why not let Pfaff off? I am
afraid he will get angry and raise a row."
"No, he won't. He will be given the wink,
and his fine will be paid ; but this Temple will
have to stand his, and if I am not mistaken,
it will disgust his few good customers, and per-
haps discourage him. By the way, do you know
who backs him in this?"
"Can't find out for the life of me. I tried
to pump that young Chamberlain last Saturday,
but he did n't help me out any. He 's an in-
nocent, that feller. He asked me if I did n't
suppose you was backing Temple. He thought
it would be just like a good, benevolent deacon
to do some such thing."
At a loss to interpret the wrathful expression on
his employer's face, the constable paused in dis-
"Did he say anything else?** asked Lamson,
in a choked voice.
"No, sir; just then Temple came along, and
I gave him the wink to be quiet, and he under-
stood, and began to talk about the work.*'
"Well, be sure and keep all knowledge of this
raid from Chamberlain; and don't talk much with
him anyway," commanded the lawyer.
"All right, sir; but I'm sure of him. I've
got him solid. Anything that he knows, I can
no HIS OPPORTUNITY.
find out, and that will be quite an advantage,
considering how intimate he is with Temple. I
put him on to the fact that we wanted to know
whether anybody 'in the upper town furnished
the cash for the * temperance store/ and offered
him a five if he would find out. You never see
a feller so tickled "
«' You " began Lamson, fairly foaming with
rage, and utterly unable to express his wrath.
"What's the matter with that?" asked the
man, beginning also to be angry that his keenness
should be questioned. " Did n't you tell me to
pick out some young feller that I could trust,
and put him on this thing } I tell you, this
young Chamberlain can be of use to us. The
men like him first-class. He is a good workman,
and never drinks. Unless you do get him on
your side, he will be likely to be against 3^ou."
"Yes, but — there is something in this matter
that you don't know, — something that I can't
explain ; but remember this : don't tell Chamber-
lain anything. Watch him all you please. Talk
with him, but don't give him another atom of
information. If a hundred dollars would recall
what you have already said to him, I would
gladly pay it."
Amazed that his empJoyer should be so stirred
by what had been said to one of the common
KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. Ill
laborers, the man left, and proceeded to carry
out the plans already laid for the breaking up
of the new store.
The day for the seizure came, and everything
worked well. Temple was taken by surprise, and
in conscious . innocence, was more than willing
to have his store searched. What was his amaze-
ment, therefore, when the searchers discovered
in a tiny closet at the rear of the shop, a num-
ber of jugs and bottles filled with liquors. He
was at a loss to know how they came there, un-
til a careful examination showed that the clap-
boards had been removed from the outside, a
board sawn through, affording access to the
" Pretty ingenious place you had rigged,'* said
Ihe constable, with a sneer.
" Me ! " gasped Temple.
"Yes, you! I knew you were a fraud, from
The other store was also raided, and the two
cases came to trial together. The few words
with which the constable reported the affair to
Lamson, may describe the success of the plot : —
** You see, I selected the jugs and bottles and
had them marked one night down in Pfaff's cel-
lar, jest as you advised," he said; "then young
Henley took them over to the engine-house and
112 ffIS OPPORTUNITY.
stored them under the floor until all was ready.
When it was time, he took them up back of
the store and slipped them through the opening,
and we stepped in the front way and seized them."
^ V/e knew what was in them jugs, and Tem-
ple never disputed it ; he jest wilted. Well, then
in the court-room, Pfaff's jugs set in one place,
and were examined, and he was fined ; and then
they came to Temple's, and they was examined,
— Temple all the while looking white as a
sheet, — and hanged if his *n war n't all /Jled
"Yes, sir, — water! The jedge tasted it, and
I tasted it, and the witnesses tasted it. 'T was
some of that miserable Steep Street water, that 's
enough to make a boss sick "
"Now," said Lamson, interrupting the voluble
executor of the law, "what you must do, is to
find out who did this. There is a traitor some-
where. You must hunt him out."
"O, there ain't no traitor; it was just a joke
of young Chamberlain's."
" What did he have to do with it } " was the
"Well, he was down to the engine-house when
Henley came in with the bottles.'*
KEROSENE AS A BEVERAGE. 113
''What was he there for?"
"He was there to show Forsyth how to rig
the flag-halliards so they would work better. He
knows, 'cause he has been aboard a yacht."
"He was showing of him when in came Henley,
quiet-like, and hid these things under the floor,
and then went out and got some more, and
then came in, and then went out three times.
When he went away the last time, Chamberlain
and Forsyth, who had been laying low in the
room above, and watching through the floor-
grate, went down to investigate, and found the
bottles and jugs. They were sure he must have
stole it, and put it there to drink on the sly,
and Chamberlain thought it would be a good
joke to empt' out the liquors and put in water;
so they did it, although it 'most broke Forsyth's
heart to pour away good stuff like that was, —
but he'd do 'most anything for a joke. Then
they kept dark, and no one else knowed it till
114 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
OBERT FLINT, although a thorough man of
business, and deeply in love with dollars and
cents, had, during his lifetime, surrounded his
mansion with beautiful grounds. They were, to
be sure, shut in by lofty fences and walls, but
the interior had been seen by occasional guests,
by venturesome boys, by midnight fruit-gatherers,
and one and all proclaimed the gardens and groves
unrivalled. When the close-fisted owner had
breathed his last, more than one thought turned
to the flowers that blossomed and fruit that rip-
ened only to fade and decay, with the hope that
at last these bounties of Nature might do good
to somebody. But as far as the factory hands
were concerned, the wisli remained as far from
fulfilment as before.
The gardener remained in charge of the place,
and was greatly feared by trespassers. Instead
of serving out the dainties of his garden to the
villagers, he kept stricter guard than ever, — lock-
ing the front gates and posting notices on all
the walls, threatening intruders with the rigors
of the law. In addition to this he purchased a
huge mastiff, which patrolled the premises with
unceasing vigilance. The only outsider that had
access to the grand house and its well-kept
grounds, as far as the public knew, was Mr. Lam-
son, who, as chief executor of the estate, had, as
a matter of course, full sway.
In getting acquainted with the town and its
surroundings, Chamberlain had as yet kept aloof
from his uncle's former residence. Having never
visited it, nor even glimpsed the lofty turrets of
the old castle-mansion, it was natural that, re-
membering the extreme penuriousness of his rel-
ative, he should unconsciously relegate it to a
position among the disagreeables of life, and
have little interest in it. When, however, one
or two of the workmen spoke of it as outshining
all of the estates in the upper town, he resolved
V) see for himself.
It accordingly happened that one bright after-
noon he found himself walking slowly in the direc-
tion of the Flint homestead. His first thought
had been to procure the keys from Lamson and
go all over the house, but a second had told him
*,hat this would hardly be in keeping with the
no HIS OPPORTUNITY.
" file-grinder character " that he had assumed ;
moreover, he disliked to ask any favor of the
agent. A deep-rooted antipathy toward this man
had taken so strong a hold on his mind, that
he avoided him as much as possible. He there-
fore was about to explore the Flint estate on
the same footing that one of his companions in
the mill would, — that of a trespasser.
Passing along the main street, he reached the
front entrance, which was secured with a heavy
padlock. Through the trees he saw for the first
time the outlines of the stately mansion, looking
far away, cool, and inviting. Above the high
granite wall the tops of heavily-loaded fruit-trees
were visible, while summer-houses, graperies, stat-
uary, and rare flowering trees, shrubs, and vines
could be seen from an adjacent elevation.
The explorer wandered along the street front-
ing this walled oasis, and saw with a feeling of
rebellion the notices that shut out the world,
himself included. Reaching the limit of the
estate, he entered an open field, and still skirt-
ing the mossy wall continued his walk. Ere long
the wall was replaced by a high fence. This he
followed, half tempted to climb, even at the risk
of his neck, when he suddenly discovered a
broken slat, and an instant later stood within
the jealously-guarded enclosure.
Although aware that he of all others had a
right to tread this exclusive domain, he felt like
an intruder. It was as if the spirit of the owner
had expressed itself in the forbidding fences and
breathed out an omnipresent " No admittance."
The care on all sides shown by the thrifty
trees and plants, the graveled walks and close-
cut turf, the rustic seats and shady arbors, gave
the place an inhabited air, which only the silent
mansion contradicted. The gardener must be a
wonder, thought the young man, as he delightedly
took in the beautiful details of the grounds.
Roaming cautiously through the ample domain,
sampling the luscious fruits that ripened only to
waste, plucking an occasional blossom, Chamber-
Iain passed the most enjoyable hour that he had
known since his arrival in Steelville. Grown
bolder by his success, he promised himself many
another visit to his relative's estate.
In the course of his wanderings he came quite
near the mansion. An eager desire possessed
him to visit it. He pictured himself swinging
in a hammock over the wide veranda in the
deep shade of the elms, or playing tennis on
the level lawn in front of the house. It was
like a look back into his own life. As he pon-
dered he did not forget that, had he so chosen,
instead of toiling through the heat of summer,
Il8 ms OPPORTUNITY.
he might have been lounging at the mountains,
or vegetating at the seashore. And even now,
thought he, it is not too late ; I can obtain
leave of absence, don a yachting-suit, and join
my former chums in a month's frolic. But the
vision of Steep Street, sweltering through the
summer heat, with the added discomforts that
poverty and sin bring, caused him to resolve
with extra vim and firmness that he would stick
to his post.
A deep growl awoke him from his reverie.
Glancing quickly in the direction from whence
it came, he saw the great watch-dog that was
the terror of the villagers, advancing toward him,
his lips drawn back, showing glistening teeth,
and his eyes flaming with ferocity. It was too
late to flee back through the garden. Before
half the distance was accomplished the mastiff
would overtake him. There was no weapon at
hand with which defence could be made, and a
glance at the bristling back of the advancing foe
showed that pacific measures could not avail.
The only means of escape was by climbing a
tree. The fruit-trees were most of them too
small to assure safety. Not far away, however,
was a large apple-tree, against which leaned a
ladder. Instantly deciding, Chamberlain ran for
this, a hoarse bark from the dog showing that
CONQUERED. 1 1 9
he was pursued. Reaching the ladder he sprang
up its rounds with an agility that months in a
city gymnasium had given him. A half-second
later the mastiff was leaping frantically at the
foot of the tree, baffled and furious. The lad-
der, instead of resting against a branch, as the
young man had at first supposed, led to a small
platform built across the limbs, forming a cosy
summer-house, and to his utter astonishment and
confusion, on one of the rustic seats sat Miss
Whitney, gazing at him with a hauteur that was
"I beg your pardon," said he, coloring deeply,
"for disturbing you, but the dog hurried
She bowed rather coldly, but said nothing.
" I suppose I shall have to wait till the gar-
dener appears," he resumed, after a pause, seat-
ing himself on a bench opposite her.
Miriam Whitney was in reality much vexed at
what she considered an unwarranted intrusion.
To be sure she could not blame the young man
for springing up the ladder out of reach of the
dog, but she was angry at his " being on the
premises, and after a short attempt at reading,
shut her book and advancing to the ladder,
started to descend. The dog, seeming to confuse
her with the stranger who had escaped up the
I20 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
same way, sprang towards her with so fierce an
aspect that she recoiled in terror.
*' He thinks us both trespassers," said Cham-
berlain, with a touch of enjoyment in his voice.
"You are mistaken, sir," she said, "the dog
knows me well."
Then with a determined air she again attempted
to go down, calling to the furious dog in a voice
that should have soothed him had he any ear
for music. But with strange obstinacy the crea-
ture with flashing eyes continued to leap half-
way up the ladder, almost overturning it in his
" Had you not better wait until the dog's
owner comes } "
"I wish to go now," she said.
" If there is no other way I will go down and
attempt to drive the dog away," replied Cham-
berlain, his mettle rising, " but he is only doing
his duty, ard I dislike to hurt him."
Miss Whitney considered this speech a mere
piece of brivado, but when the youth wrenched
a leg from one of the seats, and taking off his
coat wrapped it around his left arm, she saw
that he was thoroughly in earnest. She made a
movement as if to deter him, but pride kept her
Armed as described, he slowly descended the
ladder, the young lady with white face watching
his every move. At first sight it seemed as if
it were to be a most unequal battle. The sinewy
form of the youth did not balance the deep
chest and heavy jaws of the mastiff. Chamber-
lain, however, knew something of dogs. He was
aware that the fiercest can be subdued by proper
means. More than once he had seen profes-
sional trainers completely cow some of the most
savage of the canine tribe. It was therefore with
a definite plan of operations in his mind that he
entered the lists.
Already the animal was leaping up and snapping
at his feet. With a quick spring he was on the
ground at one side, facing the brute. He heard
an exclamation of alarm as the dog bounded
toward him and knew it was from Miss Whit-
ney. In the brief second that he had to think,
he rejoiced that she should care. The next in-
stant the dog was worrying the coat-shield on his
left arm. When the creature had his jaws fully
set in the coat, with a quick motion Chamberlain
slipped the bench-leg through the brass-studded
collar. Then dropping the coat, he twisted on
the improvised lever till the creature in spite
of frantic struggles lay on the grass with the
young man's knee under his fore-shoulder, almost
choked to death. It would have been easy
122 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
work to finish the matter and kill the dog,
hut this he did not wish to do.
"Are you hurt, Mr. Chamberlain.^'* said an
anxious, almost tearful voice at his elbow, and
the victor, panting and flushed with victory,
looked up and saw his late partner of the
arbor standing by his side. The proud air had
" Not a bit," said he heartily, " nor is the
dog. We are only a little out of breath."
Still holding the potent lever, he pulled the
exhausted mastiff to the kennel, which was not
far distant, and chained him. Then he returned
to the tree, where stood Miss Whitney, hold-
ing his coat and leaning against the ladder,
still white with fright.
"I am afraid you are ill," said the young
man, really concerned.
" No, I am not, but I feel a little faint. I
think I will go home. Our place adjoins this,"
With a quick return of color she accepted
the proffered arm. Together they crossed the
grounds in a direction opposite to that by which
the young man entered. After going a few
hundred yards a low wall, the only one in the
Flint estate, was reached. Stopping at a turn-
stile, Miss Whitney held out her hand, —
CONQUERED. 1 23
"Mr. Chamberlain," she said, "I am ashamed
and sorry that my rudeness forced you into
that dreadful battle with the dog. Will you
"Never," replied he with a smile, "for that
most fortunate fracas has really introduced me
to Miss Whitney."
"Won't you come in," she said, with a grace-
ful gesture toward her home.
"No, thank you, I must go and see how the
"Do you know the gardener?" she enquired.
" He is very severe with all intruders," she
said, adding hurriedly. " Since I was a child I
have had access to the grounds because we
" I think I can pacify him if I meet him,"
was the assured reply.
The fair girl standing at the turn-stile struggled
with herself for an instant, and then said, —
"I should be pleased to have you call, Mr.
"Thank you," was the vague reply, and they
parted. He striding toward the silent Flint
mansion, she going a few steps, and then
turning to watch his vigorous figure till he
passed out of sight
124 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
"I wonder what the girls will say if he does
call?" she soliloquized. "A file-grinder; a factory-
hand ; an ungrammatical — but he isn't ungram-
matical, he uses splendid English, and is a
gentleman ; a perfect gentleman, and no coward
either. I wonder how many of the young men
in our set would have faced that dog and con-
quered him ? I wonder if he will turn out like
the rest of them and call at the first oppor-
Returning to the dog-kennel, Chamberlain ex-
amined the mastiff. He found him lying at full
length, breathing heavily, and still much ex-
hausted. With a heart full of pity, he went to
the garden-pump near by, drew some water, and
allowed the dog to lap it, which he did greedily.
After that he seemed better, and raised himself
up, constantly turning his great, intelligent eyes
up to his conqueror's face, as if to beg his
mercy. The young man noticed that the dog
had greeted him this time with no growl, and
when he patted his head, there came a faint
wag of the tail. Poor, old, faithful fellow, he
was much puzzled by this young stranger, who
had so roughly handled him; yet, he was will-
ing, when mastered, to pay allegiance, so he
wagged his tail and tried, to lay his head against
CONQUERED. 1 25
Meanwhile, Chamberlain had been expecting
the arrival of the gardener, of whose sternness
he had often heard. How he had better meet
the old man, he could not fully decide. He
was a trespasser, but so was Miss Whitney.
The thought came that under cover of her name
he might gracefully retreat, but he at once dis-
missed it. Some distance away he could see
the outlines of a cottage, that he surmised must
belong to the gardener. Had he known what
to say, it is possible that he might have made
his way thither; but the fact that his identity
must be kept a secret deterred him, and he
at last reluctantly started to retrace his steps,
and steal out as he came in. He had gone but
a short distance when he heard the chains rat-
tle, and turning, saw the dog trying to follow.
There was nothing hostile in the motion ; on
the contrary, every motion expressed the utmost
friendliness. Obeying his first impulse, he went
back, unchained him, and again started to trav-
erse the ground, the mastiff trotting sedately at
his heels. When the fence was reached the
dog paused, his eloquent eyes entreating per-
mission to accompany his new master ; but that
could not be, so he was told to remain. When
the end of the picket fence was gained, the
young man turned and looked back. The dog
'26 Hjs OPPORTUNITY,
was earnestly watching . him, as if hoping that
the decision might be revoked. It was with a
real regret that Chamberlain passed out of sight,
feeling as if he had left a true friend, and
vowing if he could do so, to purchase the noble
animal to which, in an afternoon, he had be-
come so strongly attached
THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE, 1 27
LL the young and live masculine members of
((#i the mill settlement, as soon as they were old
enough to be addressed as Mister, joined the
engine company. Their machine, the Tiger Num-
ber One, was an old-fashioned hand-engine, that
required about forty men on the brakes. This
company of " fire-fighters " were notoriously hard
drinkers. Liquor was always to be found in their
assembly-room. The avowed purpose of the as-
sociation was to have a good time. When there
was a fire they attended it, recklessly perilled
life and limb, after which all hands had a grand
carousal. The Tigers were an aggressive com-
pany ; so much so that their trips to neighbor-
ing factory villages were usually attended by fistic
exploits that decorated their members, as well as
their opponents, with bulged cheeks and black
eyes, the possession of which was deemed no
128 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
Sam Putnam was foreman of this company,
and although he was far from being a bully, his
weaker and more cowardly companions managed,
if possible, to entangle him in their fights, so
that he had quite a local reputation. He had no
desire to quarrel, and when sober could not be
induced to do so; but when excited by liquor he
lost his cool poise, and the dry humor that was
the delight of the men, and took a hand in almost
anything that turned up.
The Rev. Charles Snow, the pastor of the aris-
tocratic up-town church, became acquainted with
Sam. Admiring his splendid proportions and find-
ing him talkative and courteous, the good man
fancied that here was one who was not far from
the Kingdom. The minister was an extremely
stiff man, slow of speech, awkward of gait, yet
a scholar and a powerful preacher. It was, as
he often acknowledged, the greatest trial of his
life to face an individual in private and ask
about his soul's welfare. He could thunder from
the pulpit, could answer questions, but to broach
the subject personally seemed well-nigh impos-
sible. Most of his congregation were aware of
his failings in this particular, and as they were
a conservative people, thought it of little conse-
quence, as long as his discourses were scholarly
In talking with the foreman of the engine
THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE. 1 29
company, more than ever before in his life had
the minister wished to introduce the subject of
subjects. Sam appeared quite willing to concede
almost anything, and the opportunity was ripe ;
but the deep-rooted, morbid bashfulness, if that
was it, kept the inquiry back, and they separated
without any religious conversation. One state-
ment, however, that the giant made clung to the
They had been talking of drunkenness, sug-
gested by the sight of a well-known Steep-street sot.
" I hope that none of the employes in your de-
partment drink," said the minister, stiffly, igno-
rant of what every boy in his congregation knew,
that nearly all drank.
" Certainly not," was the grave reply. " Dea-
con Lamson would never allow it."
"Ah," said the minister, **I am gratified to
hear it. Deacon Lamson is certainly an excellent
man, — altogether different from Mr. Flint, the
former owner of the steel-works."
**I never had any fault to find with Flint.
He was no hypocrite, at all events," said Sam,
with a gleam in his eye.
"No," was the awkward reply, "undoubtedly
not. Don't you think, my friend, — er — that — a
—some sort of an association for the promotion
of temperance would be a benefit to this village?"
130 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
**A kind of Reform Club?"
*' Yes ; something of the kind. A society that
should gather say once a week, or even oftener,
to put down liquor."
** We have one already. Our engine company,
the Tigers Number One, are engaged in that
sort of work," said Sam, solemnly.
*' Indeed ; I am glad to hear it. How many
members have you } "
"I should be glad to come down and address
the men on the subject. What nights do you
assemble.?" said the clergyman, his heart warm-
ing at the thought.
"Wednesdays and Saturdays at half-past eight
in the evening. Glad to have you come, I 'm
sure. You '11 find us in earnest about putting
The words of the leader of the company had
been the subject of much thought and prayer
on the part of the worthy man of God. He
believed that a strong under-current of temper-
ance was already setting in the mill-village, al-
though his parishioners would have scouted the
very idea. He determined to fulfill his promise,
lend them a helping hand, and if possible, sow
some Gospel seed that should ripen into precious
THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE, I3I
As for Sam, he had passed through so many
experiences with ministers and missionaries, that
he forgot all about it, never dreaming that the
proposed visit would be carried out.
One evening about twenty of the men were
gathered in the assembjy-room of the engine-
house, playing cards and dominoes, smoking and
drinking, when a new comer, stepping up to
Sam, said, with a grin, —
"Parson Snow is down-stairs, inquiring for
Sam jumped to his feet in dismay. He had
told the men, in his inimitable way, of his an-
swer to the minister, about "putting down liquor,"
and in their glee they had nearly brought down
the house ; and now the man himself was here !
"Ask him up, Sam; we'll get him drunk,"
said one or two.
"That's so; ask him up," said half-a-dozen,
ripe for a lark.
"Boys," said Sam, speaking rapidly, "put al]
the bottles and glasses out of sight. Open the
windows and let as much smoke out as possible.
Quietly now ; no noise. This is my game ; I am
going to manage it."
By the time he reappeared with the clergy^
man, the room had undergone a wonderful change.
No sign of bottle, glass, or jug, was to be seen.
132 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
The spittoons were pushed under the tables out
of sight. The heavy cloud of smoke that had
filled the room, was rapidly disappearing through
the open windows. One or two of the mem-
bers, who were feeling sleepy, were bolstered
up in corners where they would not be con-
Sam and his guest passed down the length
of the room, and took possession of the ver^-
diminutive platform that was built for the chair-
"Gentleman of the company," said Sam, "some
time since I invited this gentleman to visit us,
and speak in one of our meetings. Here he is
Now let *s all listen to what he *s got to say.
You all know who he is without my introducing
him. He is Minister Snow, from up above."
"Amen," said Gaffney from the corner, where
he was propped up in a state of collapse.
The applause that greeted Sam's speech, and
Gaffney's response, was tremendous, and the
minister thought he had rarely seen so enthusi-
astic an audience.
"My friends," began the speaker.
"Amen," said Gaffney.
"Thank you; let us hope that we shall all be
friends in the fullest sense of the word," said
the minister heartily.
THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE. 133
"A " began the voice, but somebody near
by put a broad palm over his mouth, and stopped
the word on the first syllable.
"I have been a fireman," continued the speaker,
"although never belonging to an engine com-
"Men," said Gaffney, finishing his word as
the hand was for an instant withdrawn. It was
not specially noticeable, however, as another
storm of applause succeeded.
The clergyman continued his speech ; and as
he became interested in his subject, the elo-
quence that he actually possessed came to his
aid, and ere long the laugh in every face had
disappeared, and the men were eagerly listen-
Sam, who at first had been manifestly uneasy,
grew cooler, and listened with attention. The
temptation to extravagant applause, which had
beset the men at first, was entirely quelled; even
The address, which was brief, but full of in-
formation and power, made itself felt. The fire-
men expected to hear a milk-and-water appeal
that would convulse them with laughter. Ou
the contrary, they heard liquor-drinking and li-
quor-selling arraigned with such power, that they
were dumbfounded. The shambling, awkward
134 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
minister, whose manners even they could criti-
cise, stood before them the most eloquent man
they had ever heard. They drank in his words
with eager attention, and forgot the secret pur-
poses that they had cherished.
When the speech was finished, Sam called
for a vote of thanks, which they gave. He
then abruptly closed, alleging a private business-
meeting of the engine company to follow
directly. After which he hurried the minister
away, down the stairs, and out into the night,
going part of the way home with him.
When he returned the men were still there,
although remarkably quiet.
" Don't do that again, Sam, you '11 break us
up entirely," said one of them.
"Hump," was the testy reply, "you must be a
fool if you can't stand it to hear both sides of
" That parson ain't no slouch, fur all he toes-
out so," said another. "He laid it right down
in fine shape. Still I wish you had n't done it,
Sam. It *s jest took all the taste outen my
" Nonsense, what could I do } War n't I sweat-
ing for fear some of you fellers would give
him some lip and show him what a fool I had
made of myself in inviting him ? You would
THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE. 135
have insulted him if he had n't been too smart
for you. You are wrong in thinking all minis-
ters fools. As a rule they are smarter than any
of us ; but that is no reason that we should
get down on our knees when they tell us to.
I *m going home," responded the leader.
Sam went, and the meeting adjourned ; but
thereafter the engine company were dubbed the
** Reform Club," much to their disgust.
Thrilled with a great exultation over his re-
ception at th'^ engine-house, Mr. Snow had
gone home to tell his wife of his hopes, and
to pray earnestly that more light might come
to those whom he considered seekers after it
That these prayers were not heard and an-
swered, in spite of the minister's mistaken ideas
of the "Reform Club," cannot for an instant
When next he saw his deacon, Mr. Lamson,
for whose energy and consecration he had sin-
cere respect, he hailed him with a joyous ring
in his voice.
" I have good news for you, my brother," he
said,- shaking him heartily by the hand, and for-
getting for the once his bashful frigidity.
"Very glad to hear it," was the suave reply.
"What is it, — another hundred thousand given
to missions ? "
13^ BIS OPPORTUNTTY.
" This is something right at home ; a chance
for rejoicing in your own mill village."
" Indeed," said Lamson, with less enthusiasm.
He was not at all anxious to discuss the
afifiairs of his operatives, even with his pastor,
and was heartily regretting that it was not
some missionary donation.
" I addressed a large meeting of the mill-
men, last evening, and was most pleasantly re-
ceived. I honestly believe that many of those
men are not far from the Kingdom."
" Where did you hold the meeting ; open air } "
"No; in the engine-house, by special invita-
tion. Mr. Putnam secured me, and the enthu-
siasm was very great. The men seemed deeply
iPterested in the few facts that I was able to
bring them, relative to liquor-drinking. I took
occasion, also, to arraign both the liquor-dealer
and all who were accomplices in selling the
deadly stuff ; and, by the way they listened, I
am sure it was a revelation to them."
"It must have been," was the mechanical
" By the way, your action in arresting th^
liquor-selling in your village, pleased me exceed-
ingly. Pfaff has long been a curse to the place;
can you not drive him out entirely.?"
"Not as yet; I have been watching for the
THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE, 137
opportunity, that occurred last week, for a very
long time. When things of which I have not
a right to speak are at last settled, I can do
as I would like to do now," was the vague
" I am sure you will ; the Lord bless you,
my brother," was the earnest response, as they
parted, the pastor to write a glowing letter to a
brother minister, on the indications of an ap-
proaching revival, in which he was wiser than
he knew ; and Lamson, to hurry down to the
mill and summon Sam.
" Did you invite Mr. Snow to come to the
engine-house ? '* he demanded.
"I guess I did," was the slow reply.
"What for? Arn't we bothered enough now
by outsiders, without having him around ; what
has come over you t "
"It was a mistake — a joke," answered Sam,
more humbly than he had spoken for some
" Let *s know just how it happened," demanded
the lawyer; and Sam told the whole story.
" Now, what about the young upstart ; does
he still get on well } " said the agent.
"The men like him better every day; I like
him myself. He has got the make-up of a
138 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
" Never mind that ; is he going through it all ;
the puddling, and all, mind ? "
"I think he is, and if he don't know all
there is to be known in the mill before his
time is up, my name is n't Putnam."
"Nonsense," was the impatient reply. "I am
not afraid of so much as you think. There are
things he can never know, unless your admira-
tion for him leads you to tell him."
"I ain't a traitor," was the short reply.
"Well, what is to be done with him.? Can
you think of any scheme that shall lead him to
get disgusted with the whole business, and
fhrow it up } '*
"No, I can't. His habits- are perfectly good;
he has no vices, and is cool and level-headed.
Such a man is iron-clad."
" Man ! He is but a boy," said Lamson.
"Yet he has beaten you at every move, so
far, — kinder rough for you to be beaten by a
boy, when all of the advantage is on your side,
The other bit his lips wrathfully, but said
nothing, and Putnam continued.
"I tell you, there is no hold to be got on
this young feller, because he don't drink, noi
gamble, nor care a snap for any kind of dissi-
pation. If he had one vice, you could ruin him,
THE TIGERS NUMBER ONE. 1 39
and would, I suppose. I would n't help do that ;
but as it is, he can't be touched by you."
*'I will euchre him yet," said the agent.
" I doubt it ; you are cunning, but he 's what
is better, — he is shrewd. My idea is, that he
has got the whole situation in his grasp, and
can read us all like books. When he pulled
Temple out of drunkenness and set him on his
feetj he secured the friendship of one of the
most level-headed men in the mill; and when
he — when he "
"When he what.?"
"When he pulled my little Molly out of the
river, he gained my friendship ; and whatever
may come to me or you, I won't ruin him."
"That's a good sentiment; stick to it," said
Lamson, with an inscrutable expression. " I have
it now. He is a generous fellow, — a good fel-
low. As soon as it can be arranged so that he
will not suspect too sudden a move, we will
seek his friendship."
"No more treachery with him," was the warn-
" Bless you, no ! I have been harsh with him
because it looked like x\x\r^ o me, if I did not
use such measures; but 1 see a better way.
Let me do all the act'';!^, nereafter; you just
keep quiet, and wait for orders."
I40 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
&N old man, gray, wrinkled, but vigorous, was
walking rapidly down the main street of the
upper town of Steelville. In front of him trotted
a fine mastiff. Both man and dog had a char-
acteristic dignity that led people to step out of
their way. The man, noticing no one, went into
the post-office, looked on the list, and as there
was no letter for him, turned to depart. As he
did so Tom Chamberlain entered through the
single door. The dog pricked up his ears, wagged
his tail, and made straight for him with extrav-
agant expressions of joy. The young man pat-
ted his head, and the dog kissed his hand affec-
"Be careful,*' warned the old man, seeing the
motion. "Turk dislikes strangers."
The mastiff's actions, however, contradicted the
statement, for he continued to show his delight.
" How did you make friends with him, Mr.
Chamberlain?" asked the postmaster, who was
looking on with interest.
*'0h, we are old acquaintances," was the reply.
Leaving the office he started up the street foi
a walk, and had gone but a short distance when
he noticed that Turk was following contentedly.
Turning to send him back, he encountered the
"Did I understand your name to be Chamber-
lain, sir.?" he asked, courteously.
"You remind me of a gentleman whom I once
knew of the same name, — George Chamberlain.
He married a sister of Robert Flint. Perhaps
you knew him."
" I have heard of him," said the other, his
color rising at the sound of the familiar name,
"but do not remember ever to have seen him."
"He was a fine young man, and Miss Alice,
his wife, was a lovely lady. They are dead
"You knew them both, you say.?" asked Cham-
berlain, wiping the perspiration from his forehead.
"Many a time have I carried Miss Alice in
my arms all over the garden when it was damp,
that she might see the flowers. She was very
fond and proud of my garden. And her husband
I knew as well as if he had been a relative."
142 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
** And do I appear like him ? " said the poor
fellow, with brimming eyes, in spite of his efforts
The old man adjusted his glasses and looked
searchingly at his companion.
"Are you George Chamberlain's boy.?" he said,
"Let us go inside, and I will tell you," was
the answer, for they were already at the high
gate that opened into the Flint grounds. When
they had entered, the gardener eagerly put the
"Yes, I am his son," was the reply.
" I knew it ! I knew it ! You are little Tom,"
throwing his arms about him in excess of joy.
" You look like him, you speak like him, you
have his whole bearing. You are Miss Alice's
boy. Did she never tell you of old Allan } "
"She died a year after father. I was barely
three years old, and can remember but little
" To be sure ! to be sure ! " said the other,
wiping his eyes. "And then you were placed
under a guardian to be educated. Oh, but my
lad, I 'm right glad to see you. It does my
heart good ! "
" I did n't intend at first to tell of my rela-
tionship, but when you spoke of my father and
mother, I could not bear to go away without
hearing more of them."
"You are not in any trouble that you are--
forgive me, Master Tom, but you are not hiding
for any reason ? " asked the gardener, anxiously.
" No, indeed, nothing of the kind. I will tell
you in part what I am doing. Only, what I
say must not be repeated till I give you per-
mission. It is quite important that it should b'*.
"Very well, sir," was the respectful reply.
"I am in the file-works as a common laborer.
Every one in town, who thinks of it, supposes
that I am like all the rest of the hands there,
and that is just /vhat I wish."
"No word of mine shall undeceive them, sir,"
"When I was at school,** continued he, aftei
a pause, "all the other fellows had fathers and
mothers who were often writing and sending
them things, — little things they were many times;
but I would have given all my pocket money
foi* the love that accompanied them. Doctor Pon^
sonby was kind, but he never knew how I longed
for some real flesh-and-blood relatives."
" It must have been hard. My woman and I
used often to wonder how Miss Alice's boy
fared. But we heard little or nothing from you.
144 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
Master Robert had some sort of feeling against
your father, and would not talk about any of
you. Now, Master Thomas, won't you come to
our cottage and let the old woman have a sight
at you ? She is n't very well, and it will be bet-
ter than medicine for her."
There was such entreaty in the tone, and hos-
pitality had been so frugally bestowed since he
had been in Steelville, that Tom accepted and
crossed the grounds toward the vine-covered cot-
tage. As they passed the apple-tree containing
the rustic seat. Chamberlain halted and told the
gardener of his adventure, and how he had made
friends with Turk.
"Ah, that is why he was so glad to see you
He was conquered, and was willing to own it.
These mastiffs never forget. I don't suppose any
power on earth could make him attack you
again," said Allan.
The dog seemed to know that they were talk-
ing about him, for he looked from one to the
other, then pushed his cold nose into the young
man's hand, as an oath of fealty, and trotted
ahead toward the cottage. At the door stood a
wee, bent figure, — faded and wrinkled, but still
kindly and beaming.
" Who, think you, this gentleman is ? " asked
RECOGNIZED. 1 45
** I 'm sure I cannot tell, with these last glasses
ye brought me, Allan, dear ; but whoever )ie
may be, he is welcome."
"This is Miss Alice's boy," said he, with a
tremble in his voice.
** The Lord be praised ! " ejaculated the old
lady. "How I have longed to see you, dear lad !
Come in, come in. You may not feel acquainted
with Allan and me, but we know you. Your
mother and father have spent many pleasant
hours in this little house."
So deeply was Chamberlain stirred by the sim-
ple-hearted hospitality, that it brought a big lump
in his throat, which he tried in vain to swallow.
He had in his loneliness longed for the home
element that other boys were so rich in. They
had brothers, and sisters, and parents, but he
l;ad none. It was not wonderful that he had be-
come reticent, and was in the habit of looking
on both sides of a question before he became
enthusiastic over it. His friendship for Will
Marshall was the only real affection he had as
yet felt for any one, beside the vague feeling
that haunted him when he tried to recall the
face that had once leaned over him in his cradle,
and had soothed his baby troubles. The misty
memory-picture had grown so faint as to be
almost obliterated, and of late years had become
14^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
blended with a miniature of his mother that he
possessed. He strove to keep the two separate,
ior he felt that when they blended he should
lose the last real look of the mother he so
The old couple, in their quaint little home,
telling him of his mother, seemed to bring the
past nearer. At last he had found friends who
could talk sympathetically of his parents. It
seemed to him, in his thankfulness, as if he
would not exchange their simple, heartfelt afEec-
tion for anything on earth.
Old Allan told his wife about his employment
in the works, and she was filled with kindly
"I fear you will never stand it. Do you feel
well, dear ? " she said.
"Yes, indeed; it is toughening me. I am a
great deal stronger than I was when I entered."
"Where do you board? At the hotel?" she
He told the name of his humble boarding
place, and Allan's wife lifted her hands in as-
"Do they cook to suit you?" she asked.
"I have had better meals," was the laughing
reply; "but they do the best they can. The
food is plain and wholesome. It is such as the
RECOGNIZED. 1 47
rest get, and possibly a trifle better. I can
"I have been thinking, Allan, dear, that we
have a spare room, and could have him with
ns, — if you would be willing to come here,"
she said, turning to the visitor.
He saw the eagerness in her eyes, and the
pleased look in her husband's face, and he
thought how delightful it would be. There
would be the whole range of the garden ; he
could enter the mansion, unseen by prying eyes,
and have access to the library. These possible
enjoyments flashed over him at once, but he
put them aside.
"Thank you," he said, sorrowfully; "I wish I
could come, but it is impossible. I am performing
a difficult mission, and my place for the present
is among the operatives; working as they work,
living as they live."
"But you will come often to see us ."' said
Allan and his wife in a breath.
'*I will, you may be sure; if only to ^-r^ some
of these buns," he answered, with a ;ol]y laugh.
The old couple laughed joyously w':h him.
"That is a family taste. I ne^-er knew one
of your kin who did not like tbcti , and they
always said that Martha's were th^ best ever
made," said Allan.
148 HIS OPPORTUNITY
" I don*t know, Allan, dear, but mayhap the
lad would like to go over the house and see
his mother's room and the family portraits,'*
said Martha, in a hesitating manner.
"Indeed I would, if it would not make Lam-
son angry with you," was the eager reply.
"Mr. Lamson is not my master," said the old
man, with an expressive nod. "He issues many
commands, but they do not overturn the regular
order of things. I know my business, and at-
tend to it. He is only an executor."
After a little delay, Allan secured a large
bunch of keys, and followed by the whole com-
pany, including Turk, made his way to the man-
sion. The great doors swung open, and the son,
with beating heart, entered the ho.use that for
years had been his mother's home. From the
hall with its marble floor, which sent the echoes
of their footsteps ringing through the empty
apartments, they passed up the broad stairs to
a pretty alcoved room, the hangings and deco-
rations of which were so warm and pleasant as
to entirely banish the deserted feeling that had
oppressed the young man when first he entered
"Miss Alice's room," said old Martha, in a
tone of loving reverence ; and he felt as if at
last he stood in the presence of his mother.
With true tact, the gardener and his wife slipped
away, and he entered alone, and standing in the
middle of the apartment looked about him. In
one of the alcoved windows was a rocking-chair,
before which stood a quaint, little work-table
with some unfinished work still on it. Scissors,
thimble, and thread lay as if in use but a
moment before. As the son looked, the form
that he could but mistily remember grew again,
and seemed to occupy the accustomed seat.
The dear mother-face that had soothed his baby
dreams was again almost real, — almost tangible.
He sank on his knees by the chair and blindly
reached out for a hand-clasp — a touch.
"O, my mother!" he whispered, "my mother!"
Kneeling thus in this atmosphere made holy
by mother-love, a great peace came over hia.
He had long been aware that the prayers of tha
mother had many times ascended for her onl}
son; and now that they were answered, and tha'
he had become a follower of his mother's Saviour,
the blessedness of such a relation filled him with
joy inexpressible. The sweet poetry of the Psalm-
ist, — ** I am Thy servant and the son of Thy
handmaid," — ran again and again through his
mind. As he arose from his knees, after a
silent, heartfelt prayer for guidance, that he
might so live as one day to meet that mother
ISO IfIS OPPORTUNITY.
in Heaven, his eye caught a tiny gold ring sus-
pended by a blue ribbon from a part of the
chandelier. Upon taking it down he found in it
the initials A. E. F. — his mother's before mar-
riage. Accepting this as a precious memento of
this visit, which perhaps could not be repeated
until his period of probation was over. Chamber-
lain hung it on his watch-chain and rejoined his
friends in the hall. In obedience to his request,
they now proceeded to the family picture gal-
lery, where hung portraits of the Flints for
generations. Among them all he at once recog-
nized the sweet, girlish face that had so long
been with him; that was his ideal of perfect
loveliness. He tarried long before this picture of
his mother, impressing its every feature on his
mind, until he was called away by old Allan.
"I thought perhaps you might be interested
to see the picture of your uncle. The light is
going very fast," he said, apologetically.
It was with no little interest that the nephew
halted before the portrait of him whose letter
he had read and re-read, and whose request had
changed the whole thread of his life. As he
expected, the face was full of stern lines, — full
of firm resolve and haughty pride. There was
in the keen eye a look of constant pain and un-
rest, that the artist must have faithfully copied, so
well did it tally with the rest of the face. The
aquiline nose, the thin lips, betokened the ac-
quisitive cast of the mind; while the lofty, dome-
shaped forehead, from which the hair was brushed
carelessly away, indicated intellectual ability.
"Poor master Robert," said Allan; "he was
crossed in love when but a young man, and
never got over it. The pain was always with
him. He tried to drown it by money-making
and by study, but the picture tells how he suc-
ceeded. He was a strange man, and grew bitter
as he grew older; yet, he did many kind acts
unbeknown, and I shall never forget his good-
ness to me.'*
"Did he study much?"
**A11 night long sometimes. He never rested
well nights, and he could only forget his troubles
by hard work. I know he said to me one day, in
his quick, nervous way: * Allan, they call labor
a curse; to me it is a blessing, — the only bless-
ing I enjoy.' His library contains books in many
outlandish tongues, and he could read them all.
When he couldn't study on account of his head,
he used to work over the fruit-trees and the
flowers; and good gardener as I then claimed
to be, it was all I could do to keep pace with
After a glance at the library, that was far
152 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
too brief to satisfy him, and a general survey
of the different rooms, enlivened by the remi-
niscences of the aged couple, Chamberlain again
stood on the gravelled walk. As twilight was
already fast turning into dark, he bade them
good evening, and escorted to the gate by Turk
started for home.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. 153
Ir) • ]^cn)en)bpa:r)ce • ©| • iTye.
SWEET Sabbath hush had settled over
Steelville. The wide-throated chimneys of
the file-works had ceased to belch forth smoke,
— the throbbing engines and crashing trip-ham-
mers were at rest. The only sounds that broke
the quiet were the far-off shouts of the quoit-
throwers, and even they, softened by distance,
served to intensify the stillness.
In the upper settlement the noise of the
world seemed entirely shut away. The bells had
ceased to clang, and even the gentle vibrant
tolling of the North Church bell had gone
lingeringly over the distant hills, and was lost
in the brooding silence.
Within the church were gathered the wor-
shipers ; it was Communion Sabbath. The beau-
tiful audience-room, with its mellow light, its
reverent congregation, its absorbing quiet, seemed
the abiding place of holy thought, of penitent
154 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
Among the communicants sat Chamberlain and
Temple. Before God and men they solemnly
covenanted to follow in the footsteps of the
Master. Into their full hearts flowed a sweet
and healing peace. Softened, purified, they re-
joiced in acknowledging before the world their
belief. Very happy were they as they bowed
before the Lord, full of real purpose to preach
Christ and Him crucified, by word and act, for
the rest of their lives.
"This is the House of God; this is the
gate of Heaven," murmured Chamberlain, his
hand seeking Temple's.
Miss Whittier, in whose pew the young men
sat, watched them with gratified interest. Con-
servative she was, as were most of the North
Church people ; yet her heart warmed to-
ward the two youthful soldiers, so zealous for
the Lord. There were others among the con-
gregation, who awakened by the sight of two
men from the file-works among them, as wor-
shipers, rejoiced, and forgetting their inbred
stiffness, warmly welcomed them.
The Rev. Mr. Snow, thankful above all others
that a movement was begun in the lower vil-
lage, prayed and praised with fire and eloquence
that a direct answer of prayer alone can in-
spire. He prayed openly, earnestly, for the
IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. 155
mill settlement, pleading its wretchedness and
misery, till even Lamson, really touched, wiped
his eyes. Few hearts are so hardened that the
Spirit can not strive with them. Foolish, blind
Lamson; plotting to defraud Steep Street, — to rob
God ! Listen to the voice in your heart ; it is
the Lord's ! He pleads with you ! Even you
who have for years robbed Him ; even you,
hypocrite, falsifier, and you, as ever before,
harden your heart and reject him. Alas! what
are the few dollars you gain compared with the
worth of your soul?
"This is my body broken for you," trembled
the voice of the pastor, and the thought of
the great atonement pervaded the room like a
"Eat ye all of it."
With love and reverence, with broken, con-
trite hearts, the new disciples ate, remembering
Him who, on Calvary, died that their sins might
be no more.
" This is my blood of the New Testament
ahed for you," read the thrilling voice.
How precious that blood, the starting tear,
the quivering lip, the heart-leap of love, could
ill testify. Gethsemane and the cross rose be-
fore them. The agony that no tongue could
paint, no words express, the boundless love
15^ mS OPPORTUNITY.
that wrested even from the biting pangs of
death the glorious victory, swept over them in
its wonderful beauty, its power, its God-likeness.
"Drink ye all of it."
Bearing the symbol of the precious blood,
the deacons served with reverence. From scores
of hearts rose earnest prayer and fresh resolve.
Then came the plaintive hymn, sung without
organ or choir, the hymn that brought to mind
the "upper chamber," where were gathered "the
" After they had sung a hymn they went out."
As Chamberlam and Temple walked toward
home, the heart of the former fairly overflowed
"I am so happy," he said, "I wish I could
see Will Marshall. How he longed for my con-
version ; how happy he would be I I must
"Who is Marshall?" asked Temple, in a
strange, hoarse voice.
The other looked at him in surprise.
"He is my friend," he said; "you have heard
me speak of him."
" Oh, yes," was the absent reply, " I believe
" He is a splendid fellow. Some day I hope we
both may see him ; he would be such a help
IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. 157
to US If ever a man loved and served the
Lord Jesus, that man is Will Marshall. I al-
ways honored him, but now I love him for it."
Temple was silent.
** Why do you hurry so ?" asked Chamberlain
finally. " Won't people wonder at our walking
at this rate?"
" I must get home," said Temple, a bright
flush burning in his cheek. " Don't hinder me ;
don't do it ! I must be alone ! "
With increasing^ surprise Chamberlain allowed
himself to be hurried along toward the mill
village. Fortunately for his feelings, few went
that way, and their rapid pace was not noticed.
Reaching his boarding place, Temple hastened
in, hardly saying good-bye. His companion, in
his great happiness, attributed it to overpower-
ing emotion. Full of peace, he went home
with a heart-hunger to share his gladness with
some one, — any one.
He met Gaffney, and was going by with the
usual nod, when the thought came, "Why not
share with him ? *'
"Nonsense, he would laugh at me," was the
"What of that ? Preach the gospel to every
creature," came the answer, and with much mis-
giving, he said, —
15^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
*'Gaffney, where are you bound?"
"After some one who has the price of a
drink to lend," was the answer. " Does that
happen to be yourself?"
" Come up to my room and let us talk it over."
The bloated sot followed the young man up
the winding stairway and seated himself in one
of the two chairs that the room contained.
Chamberlain could not but notice the broad
shoulders and good proportions of the drunkard,
disfigured though he was by the liquor. They
seemed more noticeable in the room than they
did out of doors.
"Gaffney, you must have been a powerful man
once," he said.
"That I was, boy, that I was; next to Sam
Putnam, I was. Few men in this village or the
next cared to meddle with me."
"And now — "
"Now the little kids on the street 'square
off' at me and call me names; but that's none
of your business," said Gaffney suddenly, wax-
ing angry. "You will never be half the man
"Gaffney," said Chamberlain, "the Lord Jesus
Christ at this moment looks into your heart, and
sees that you hate rum, and would be free from
it. He will help you. He can set you free."
m REMEMBRANCE OF ME, 159
*' It *s a lie ! " said the other, the tears start-
ing to his eyes and running down his face. "It's
a lie ; no power can save me ! Have n*t I sworn
that I would break off, and failed? Haven't I
*' He can save you."
«* I 'm a Catholic, " said Gaffney. " I don't
train in your crowd. I tell you, nothing can be
*' Catholic or Protestant, the Lord has the
power, and only waits for you to ask him. Will
you do it ? "
"I would if I could believe it," answered the
wretched man, " but what is the use ? Now, there
is Deacon Lamson "
"Never mind him. He must some day answer
for himself. Let us look only at our own dis-
ease," was the steady reply.
" If this is so, why don't some one try it ? "
" Hundreds have, and have been saved. Men
who loved liquor as well, and perhaps better than
you do, have been freed from it. There is Tem-
ple. He has asked for this help and received it.
Before doing so he failed in every single resolve
" Don't Temple drink nothing now ? " asked
" Not a drop ! I never saw such a change in
l60 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
a man. He prayed and was helped. Comt
over to his room and let him talk to us abouf
A three -minutes* walk brought them to the
house. Entering, they ascended to Temple's
room. The door was locked. The young man
" Who is there } '* said a hoarse voice.
A volley of imprecations followed, accompanied
ly a crash of glass, as though a tumbler had
\ een hurled at the door. The fierce fumes of
^teep- street whiskey penetrated even to the
Gaffney laughed, a despairing, horrible laugh,
ai d said, —
" That *s it ! He is drunk as a fiddler ! He
prjiyed and got help! Just the kind of help I
am looking for ! Just the help they all get !
W^at a fool I was to think that I could be
With an oath Gaffney started to go down
staira, but Chamberlain, his whole energies ab-
sorbcof by an earnest desire to save the soul
that had acknowledged an interest, and reso-
luteh crowding aside his doubts, threw himself
upor> his knees in the passage-way and begged
the lord, for his name's sake, to heal this soul,
IK REMEMBRA^rCE OF ME. l6l
— not to allow the fall of another to keep him
out of the Kingdom. At first the man laid a
rough hand on his shoulder and attempted to
pass him, but as the earnest petition arose he
paused, and soon his hand fell, and he staggered
back and leaned against the wall.
** Stop, boy, stop," he whispered huskily. " It *s
mocking to pray for me ; I ain't worth it."
"O Lord, heal this soul. Give him faith;
give him light ; keep him safe. O Lord, make
him thy servant even now."
" Don't, lad ; spare me. I hate it all now,
but in an hour I '11 be just as bad as ever.
Don't let me take the holy name on my lips
and then desecrate it ; let me go."
"Draw him nearer to Thee. Let him see
Thee as Thou art. Give him true repentance.
Guard him from this moment as Thine own.
O Lord, thou hast promised though one's sins
be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow ;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be
white as wool. It is so with this man ; his sins
have been many."
" Yes, yes ; mountains ! " groaned the drunkard.
" He acknowledges them, — he repents ; and
now he pleads Thy promises. Thy blood was
shed for the forgiveness of his sins, and through
Thy great loving kindness he now claims it."
1 62 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"Yes, Lord," sobbed Gaffney, utterly broken
down, and at length upon his knees ; " I 've tried
everything else, and although I 've known it in
my heart that you could help me, I have been
too cranky to give you a show ; but if you '11
forget it, O Lord, and forgive my sin, I '11 pitch
in and serve ye my level best. I 'm a poor,
miserable, shucks of a man, but I mean what
I say, — I mean business every time."
It was a rough prayer, but it went straight
up to the Great White Throne, and the drunkard
rose to his feet forgiven.
During the petition a great silence had fallen
Mpon the group. No more oaths came from the
room where Temple was ; and if he heard, he
made no sign. At length Chamberlain knocked
again and hstened for reply. All was still. He
softly and lovingly called his friend's name,
determined, if possible, to win him back to
righteousness, even if this fall — which had in-
expressibly shocked him — should tempt him ts
abandon all hope. He felt that the Lord had
shown him great mercy in bringing Gaffney to
himself; and wonderfully encouraged, he resolved,
if need be, to stay all night before his friend's
door, lest he should come out desperate and
drown remembrance in carousing. With a hearty
grip of the hand, and a warm *' God bless you,"
IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. 1 63
Gaffney had gone home to impart the glad news
to his drunken wife.
As Chamberlain stood softly knocking, the
landlady came up the stairs, a bunch of keys in
*' Here," she said, " I can let you in. Try
Inserting the skeleton key that she presented,
he carefully pushed the other out, and then,
with an apology on his lips, unlocked the door
and entered the room. It was empty. An open
window showed the manner of Temple's exit,
and the broken glass and empty bottle spoke
only too eloquently of his frightful debauch.
With a heavy heart he stood in the middle of
the small apartment and looked around. There
was the Bible, a present from Miss Whittier,
stained and torn, swept to the floor by a drunken
Land. He picked it up and laid it gently in
its accustomed place, praying the while that the
day might come, and speedily, that John Temple,
clothed and in his right mind, might again value
it as before, and again try to live up to its
Mechanically he locked the door, after leaving
a note on the open Bible, begging his friend
to try again, and whatever his resolution, to
come and sec him before going away. With a
164 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
faint hope that this might, through God's bless<
Ing, be the means of arresting his downward
course, the young man went sorrowfully to his
lodgings. How much he had leaned upon his
friend he now knew, for he felt so sadly alone
that he was well-nigh discouraged. He dreaded
the coming week, when all the men would be
scoffing at the fallen convert ; and above all he
feared for the influence it would have upon
them. That the Lord could and did keep those
who trusted fully in Him, he did not doubt;
but would not the file-grinders question it?
There was Gaffney, to be sure, who seemed to
be really converted, but there was every chance
for him to slip. A drunken wife, a set of
rioting, drinking neighbors, and but a slight
knowledge of the " way of life." The Lord
could teach him; but Chamberlain trembled as
he thought of the self-confidence of ihe man,
even when he was in the gutter. No doubt he
meant to do right, and would for a time ; — but
was it lack of faith on Chamberlain's part, or
a knowledge of men, that led him to distrust?
Perhaps it was both ; yet the young man prayed :
" O Lord, for the sake of poor, down-trodden
Steep Street, let not this man fall."
So pressed was he by the burden that rested up-
on him, that two hours later, just in the edge of
IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME, 1 65
the evening, he strolled down the street, to see if
Gaffney was in any of his usual haunts. At first
his search was unsuccessful. One place after
another was visited, and no signs of the burly
figure were to be seen. Becoming a little more
cheerful, at not readily finding the object of his
search, he went on, determined to convince himself
that his doubts were unfounded. The last place
on his list was the engine-house, and on the
steps he found him, in a deep, drunken sleep.
With a groan he turned away and hurried
Passing one of the "loafing corners," he tar-
ried an instant to hear the last of a story that
one of the young roughs was relating.
"After he got through with his sermon, and
was sitting as independent as you please, refus-
ing to touch a drop of anything, one of the fellers
slips up behind him and holds his arms, and an-
other chucks the nose of a bottle right into his
mouth. At first he struggled like a good one,
but all of a sudden he stopped, and drank till
they had to pull it away, and now he 's drunk
as a trooper.'*
Completely discouraged, feeling as if the Pow-
ers of Darkness were too strongly entrenched in
Steep Street for even a soul to be saved, he
passed along. The knowledge that men could
l66 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
deliberately force another to drink, and rejoice
in a downfall that would probably mean the loss
of a soul, was to him inexplicable. Why should
not the most depraved be glad if any one had
the grace given him to climb up out of the
TAAPS SECRET, 1 67
T was midnight. Chamberlain, unable to sleep
after the scenes of the afternoon, quietly
dressed and started for a walk, hoping the fresh
air would calm his throbbing brain Without
thinking as to where he might go, he passed
through the village, over the road tha*" he traveled
four times a day. No lights were burning ex-
cept in the engine-house, where a glimmer through
the close-drawn shutters showed that some of the
company were still prolonging their Sunday spree.
Going rapidly through the settlement, he reached
the great enclosure in which stood the buildings
of the file-works. All was so silent that it seemed
not the same place that it did in the glares of
the daylight, with the machinery making hideous
din. A feeling of awe came into his mind as the
buildings loomed up before him like masses of
1 68 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
As he strode on, the remembrance of Temple
as he had appeared at his best, when he was
trying so hard to serve the Lord, came again
and again to the young man. It could not
be possible that he had been deceived as
to his own real desire for a new life, and
the thought that it had all been a sham from
the first, which many would bring forward,
was, he felt assured, entirely groundless. The
suddenness with which Temple had fallen, and the
shock that it produced in connection with the
impressive communion service, would certainly do
Over and over again he had recalled even the
minutest details of speech and action. The
awful problem as to why his friend had been
suffered to slip back to living death when just
rescued, was more than he could solve. He knew
that Temple must have been converted, must
have loved the Lord, must have been accepted
and forgiven. Had this not been so, could he
ever have kept from liquor as he had for months
before the dreadful Sunday.^ As he recalled that
Sabbath, the strange feverishness of his companion
after the service, his frantic haste to reach home,
his incoherence, all combined to perplex the
young man. Shuddering at the thought of his
fearful fall, — praying that even now there might
TAM'S SECRET. 1 69
be hope for him, yet ignorant as to the cause
of his relapse, Chamberlain sped on.
At length he became wearied and turned to-
ward home. His heated blood had cooled, and
he felt that he could leave the matter
to the Lord, assured that it would all come
out right. By the time the file-works were
reached on the way back, he was weary enough
to take a "short cut," and leaving the main
road he entered a path that ran along in the
shadow of the lofty board fence in the rear of
the mill-enclosure. This path was used by the
operatives alone, and led to the river, where a
narrow foot-bridge connected it with the Steep-street
settlement. He hurried on in the uncertain light,
sometimes splashing in little pools of rain-water,
at others stepping carefully over some queer
shadow. The night, partly cloudy, partly bright,
and the strangeness of the situation, were not
without their effect; an uncanny feeling which the
loneliness and the piercing cries of the whip-
poor-wills served to intensify, came over him.
About one-half the length of the seemingly in-
terminable board fence had been passed, when
close by sounded a human voice. As he had
been walking softly and doubted if the speaker
had eithei seen or heard him, he instantly
stood still and listened, and after an instant's
I/O HIS OPPORTUNITY.
silence it came again, — this time distinctly, a
man's voice, sad and querulous, not loud, but
clear as a bell.
''I'm verra, verra weary," it said, "verra
Chamberlain's first thought had been that it
was some one belated like himself, and traversing
the same path; but to his astonishment he now
discovered that the voice came from the mill-
yard. The portion nearest him was crowded with
buildings not in use, and made available as a
sort of storage yard. He had been in it but
once, and could summon a dim vision of two or
three rusty boilers, heaps of building material,
an acre or two of cases, and a few stone-cut-
ters' shanties; the last named built up against
the lofty fence. As nearly as he could tell, the
voice came from one of these sheds.
"I saw George Chamberlain the other day in
the works. Aye, but he's a fine lad. I have a
mind to tell him about that cheating Lamson.
Robert Flint will never believe but what he is
a' right, but don't I ken him t "
Startled and astounded. Chamberlain stood
rooted to the spot. The plaintive Scotch voice
had mentioned his father's name as* well as that
of his uncle, and had condemned Lamson. Who
was this stranger who spent the night in the
TAM'S SECRET, 17 J
yard where only the watchman had a right ?
And how came he by his knowledge even of the
names he used ?
" Ah, Tam ! Tarn ! ye have no head for vil-
lanies," continued the voice, "Why could ye no
accept Lamson's proposal and meek yeer fortune ?
Has yeer conscience paid ? Robert Flint dinna'
believe ye, and George Chamberlain went awa'
so that ye could na' tell him. Ye think he 's
back, but dinna be sure. It does na' luke just
like him. It may be one who has his appear-
Crowding close to the fence, he was drinking
in every word. At first, when the unseen speaker
had apostrophized Tam, he had thought that he
was spoken to, but the tone and the subsequent
words convinced him that the speaker's name
was Tam. He wondered who he might be. The
name was totally unfamiliar.
"Ye would na' make the crucibles into polish
in secret, would ye, Tam, because ye kenned it
wad be thieving from the company, but what
gained ye by yeer conscience } Only the hate o'
Lamson. Had not the Loord raised up Sam
Putnam, wad ye no been kilt ? Aye, that ye
would, Tam. Thank the Loord, auld lad, for Sam
and thank him that ye kept yeer conscience —
«72 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
The speaker ceased, and there was again the
deep night-silence. For a long time Chamber-
lain stood waiting to hear more, but the strange
Scotchman spoke no other word. Chamberlain,
longing for a sight of him, looked wistfully at
the high fence with its row of sharp spikes,
but could see that any attempt to scale it would
At last, unable to leave without an effort to-
ward better acquaintance, he knocked softly on
There was a rustle on the other side, as if
one had roused up to a sitting posture to listen.
Again he knocked.
"What is that rappin' ? " said the sad voice
with a startled tremor.
•' It 's a lee. Chamberlain 's dead. Who are ye
that 's been listening to a puir demented mon }
Go yeer way, ye canna fule me."
A sound came as if a rickety door were pushed
" Don't go ! " called Chamberlain, " I have
something to say to you."
"Tal it to the trees, whisper it to the chim-
neys, sing it to the empty buildings. They all
TAM'S SECRET. 1 73
have ears, — they can hear, — they have voices, —
they can answer."
"Don't go. Tarn," he called.
"Eh! Hoo do ye ken my name, eavesdropper.?
Ye should be hanged by the ears!" returned the
voice, and the sound of hasty footsteps echoed
through the yard, and quiet again reigned.
Feeling that it was of no use to stay longer,
Chamberlain went his way, and ere long reached
home. He had little time before daybreak to
get even a nap, had he been in sleeping trim ;
but the exciting events of the night, coupled
with the sad occurrence of the day preceding,
made him feel as if he should never be able to
sleep again, although he was mortally weary.
Partaking of a light breakfast, he went to the
mill, where he found that the story of Temple's
disgrace had gone the rounds. Most of the men
assured all who spoke of it, and some who did
not, that it was "just what they knew would
come." Chamberlain fancied that even on the coun-
tenance of the agent, there was an " I-told-you-so "
expression. But the latter said nothing ; indeed of
late, he had avoided even the morning nod
with which he had formerly greeted the unwel-
As for Chamberlain, the comments of the men
fell on ears deadened by extreme fatigue, yet
174 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
even with the weariness came the painful feel^
ing, that there were those who would perhaps
never again "take stock in any sort of reform."
With the energy which had become a part of
his being, he determined that very noon to ex-
plore the part of the factory adjoining the
stone-cutters* sheds, and discover, if possible, who
the sad Scotchman was. The monologue in which
had figured names that few of the men in the
factory used, gave an added mystery to the whole
affair. Had the young man a superstitious
nature, he might have supposed that a garrulous
ghost had been voicing the thoughts of the
past in some favorite retreat, and have consid-
ered investigation in daylight to be useless
from the outset. Such a thought never occurred
to him, and he ate the lunch that Mrs. Bow-
man had, under protest, substituted for a warm
dinner, and started for the deserted rear yards.
The surroundings of the works were of much
greater magnitude than a casual observer would
suppose. Our anxious explorer began to be aware
of this, as after passing the long reaches of coal,
in the great coal yards, he came to a second
series of yards, where stood scores of empty
freight cars, on tracks weed-grown and rails red
with rust. Here and there, lounging in the
shade of the cars, playing "forty-five," in quiet
TAM'S SECRET. 175
nooks, were his fellow-workmen. He received
many a kindly nod, many a hearty invitation to
join the various groups. Somehow the kindli-
ness of his companions on this particular day
specially touched him. It drove the loneliness out
of his heart, in a measure, to know that the
men respected and liked him. How much he
could rely on this popularity in time of trouble,
or how little it would take to turn these friendly
ones into bitter enemies, was not the question.
They liked him now, and that was a comfort.
When he had reached the furthest limit of the
freight yard he found himself shut away from
further search by an extension of the same lofty
spike-capped fence that held him off on the pre-
ceding night. By what means access was gained
to the special yard that he now desired to
visit, he was not able exactly to recall. This
was not in the least to be wondered at, as his
first and only visit had taken place when he
was but a novice in the manufactory, and so
overcrowded with new sights and strange sur-
roundings that distinct impressions of each were
more than an ordinary mind could receive.
With a faint recollection of entering a long
building, which served as a gateway for this en-
closure, he turned his attention to the sheds and
houses in the vicinity. From the top of a box-
1/6 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
car he was able to survey the chimneys of
at least a dozen buildings on a line with the
fence. Some of them he was familar with,
while others were entirely strange. He was able
finally to decide with tolerable certainty upon
one that was probably the ** gate-house" to the
secluded yard. With some difficulty he found this
great barn-like structure, and was about to en-
ter it and explore, when the "warning whistle"
sounded, and he was forced to forego his inten-
tion for that day, and return to his work.
The next noon he renewed the attempt, and
was on the spot ten minutes after the "speed"
had shut down. The main door of the building
was locked, an unusual thing, by the way, in
the "empty yards," where nothing of value was
stored, and Chamberlain was forced to use his
ingenuity to gain entrance. Briefly surveying
the doors and windows, he saw that one of the
latter was fastened by a stick braced against
the bottom sash in close proximity to a broken
pane of glass. This not only afforded him a
chance to get in, but it also gave him some
information, for the stick that acted as fastening
was soiled in the centre, its most convenient
grasping place, and the sides of the sash were
stained as if by grimy hands ; there were also
boot-heel marks on the sill, as if some more
TAM'S SECRET. ^77
clumsy climbers had, with difficulty, entered in
this way. The depth of the stains and the
many heel-marks testified to the frequency with
which this means . of ingress and egress were
Unseen by any of his fellows. Chamberlain
climbed into the great empty structure, and
stood taking his bearings. The absence of
stored goods or stock greatly facilitated a rapid
survey of the one apartment. At first, even
with this help, he could not see what communi-
cation could be had with the further yard, but
a closer inspection revealed a door which must
have been open when he was there before.
This yielded easily to his touch, and he found
himself nearing the goal of his hopes. Once
on the ground, the sights even when he was a
novice— which, by the way, explained his admit-
tance to a portion of the works from which
most of the old hands were debarred, — came
back to him. Here and there through the
weeds that had grown up in wild luxuriance,
ran paths that appeared to end nowhere in
particular, and to be of no definite use.
An air of desolation and decay was imparted
to the whole place, by vines clambering over
piles of rust-clad castings, forcing themselves
through the spokes of broken cog-wheels as if
1/8 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
to bind them forever to the earth, or clinging
to the weather-worn buildings as though they
would add even their feeble strength to the
efforts of wind and weather to pull them down.
A number of buildings, of stone and wood,
stood in this yard, and as Chamberlain debated
which first to examine, a step sounded on the
pathway behind him, and turning quickly he was
confronted by the watchman of that section.
*' Look here, young feller ! What do you
want in this part of the works?" he inquired
**0h, I am just looking around," was the quiet
"Well, get right out. Orders is strict not to
let nobody in here; been enough stealing done
by you * piece hands'."
" I did n't see anything to steal except a rusty
boiler or two," said Chamberlain, good-humoredly.
"Well, orders is orders, so git."
"By the way, is Tam round here to-day.?"
enquired Chamberlain, in a very ordinary voice.
" Tam who } " was the query, without a trace
of the consternation that was expected.
"Why, Tam, the Scotchman."
" He ain't been in here, whoever he is. You
are the only one who has been here for weeks,
and what possessed you I don't sec. I should
TAAPS SECRET, 1/9
never have known you were here, either, if
you hadn't left that window open."
Chamberlain mentally reproached himself for
such carelessness, even while studying the
expression of the man's face. It appeared to
be perfectly honest, and he came to the con-
clusion that the watchman knew nothing about
the little Scotchman.
"Don't let any of the fellers know that
you 've been in here," said the man in parting.
"Because if the boss gets wind of it he will
''All right, I won't mention it"
l8o HIS OPPORTUNITY
Wl)(2if • f l)e • €!l)urel) . 01 J • J^Q>^A • If.
TiT was Wednesday evening. "Prayer-meeting
st night," the elderly folk were wont to call it.
The regular attendants, a few saintly mothers,
one or two deacons, several elderly brethren,
and half-a-score of sisters had already gathered
in the vestry. On this particular occasion
there were in addition numbers of others, whose
faces were seldom seen in the house of God
during the midweek. Their presence was due
to the report that had gone forth, that there
would be a "lively time*' at this meeting, and
they had gathered to enjoy it. When the bell
ceased tolling, the pastor read the Scriptures,
offered prayer and gave out a hymn. During
the latter exercise, the clock in the rear of the
room struck the hour with painful distinctness,
interrupting, as it always did, at the usual
place. After singing, during which the cabinet
organ lost its breath and was compelled to
WHAT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT. l8l
stop, the pastor made a few remarks. The
meeting was then thrown open to the brethren.
Brother Closson offered his every-meeting peti-
tion, that they "all might be burnin' and shinin*
"Jes' so" Johnson spoke of the work among
the Telegoos, and of the encouragement that it
should he to all who were "in the service."
Miss Ferguson began a verse, became con-
fused, lost her reckoning, and her sister fin-
Deacon Wilson spoke briefly and pointedly
upon the subject contained in the chapter with
which the meeting was opened.
Everything had gone on as usual. Even the
hymns were carefully started too high, and
broken down on in the stereotyped way.
All the dryness of an ordinary, dull meeting
was present, yet a deep interest pervaded the
room which had not been touched by exhortation
or prayer. It lay outside of the accustomed
speeches, and when the benediction was pro-
nounced, and all members of the church had
been requested to remain, it began to manifest
With reluctance and sorrow Mr. Snow began
upon the subject. In a voice tremulous with
suppressed emotion, he went over the brief
1*2 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
career of John Temple since he had come under
the notice of the church. He spoke of the
/oung man's apparent sincerity, of his humility,
and his dependence on a Higher Power. He
was aware, he said, that many in the congrega-
tion wondered that one who promised so well
should, on the very afternoon of his admission
to the Church of Christ, have gone back to his
sins. It was a calamity, not alone to the
sufferer, but also to every Christian there. It
would cause the enemies of Christ to rejoice,
and would discourage the weaker Christians.
Many of the unsaved, who had watched with a
ray of hope the progress of the convert, would
believe that it was all a sham, — that there was
no salvation from the power of drink.
"In this emergency," continued the pastor,
"it behooves the church to do something. It
is her duty to remove the stumbling-block by
which this man, our brother, fell. And lest
there be misunderstanding, let me relate exactly
how his fall came about. He believed, with
the rest of us, that he was saved from a most
terrible appetite for strong drink. Since his
conversion, no drop had passed his lips. His
taste for liquor was not taken away, but the
Lord gave him grace to overcome it. He felt
his own weakness, and by constant prayer and
WHAT 7 HE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT. 1 83
careful avoidance of places of temptation, he was
kept from falling. This church, through its
most sacred ordinance, that of communion,
placed the temptation in the hands of the
unhappy man. We served him with the alcohol
for which he had the horrible thirst, and when
once it was tasted all strength for resistance
was gone. We are guilty, — ignorantly, without
doubt, but guilty. At the table of the Lord
we have furnished poison. We have caused a
brother to fall, to plunge into a whirlpool of
excess, to flee away, in a mad debauch, where,
none knows but the All-pitying One. How
shall we atone ? "
The pastor ceased speaking, and for several
moments a hush reigned in the room. At
length Deacon Wilson rose. He was known as
a thorough, perhaps a fanatical, temperance
"It seems to me," he said, with feeling,
"that this lesson from the Lord should be a
profit to us. Other churches have been awake
on this subject. Several, to my knowledge,
have adopted non-alcoholic wine at their com-
munion service. Why should not we at once
do the same ? "
"This meeting has been called as a regular
church business meeting, and the question can
1 84 ms OPPORTUNITY.
be settled here and now," said the pastor.
"We await a motion."
"I would move that non-intoxicating wine be
hereafter used at our church communion," said
** Second the motion," said one of the sisters.
At this juncture a handsome, portly gentleman
of fifty or over, who had been sitting quietly
in the rear of the room, rose and went for-
ward, taking a position where the audience
could see his every motion. It was customary
there for speakers to address the congregation
from whatever part of the room they had been
sitting. This movement, therefore, arrested the
attention of all. In a deep, mellow voice, in
accents that showed culture, he began. He
said he believed that a church that followed
closely in the footsteps of the Master could not
fall far short of its whole duty. With tender
reverence he described the last supper, the
eating of bread, the drinking of the cup.
"Now," said he, in conclusion, "I deplore
deeply the sad event that has occurred, but let
us not charge ourselves with it, for in this
case we are blameless. We have done as
Christ commanded. The young man fell, not
because of the communion service, but because
he did not use the will that God gave him.
WffAT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT, 185
Would not our action in substituting some other
liquid for the divinely ordered wine be a criti-
cism upon the action of the Master ? Would
not, also, the beauty and completeness of the
service be sacrificed, were we to lay rude hands
upon it ? "
The gentleman sat down, and there was no
reply to his words. Even Deacon Wilson
appeared loth to enter into controversy with
him, and it looked as if, as is the case in
many places, the mere presence of a great
man was going to shut the mouths of all who
did not exactly agree with him. Cham-
berlain, however, with all his sorrow for
Temple, and an unavoidable sense of humiliation
when he knew that many would put him into
the same category, felt the old spirit of debate
taking possession of him, and noting the weak
points in the other's address, rose.
There was a rustle of interest and a subse-
quent hush as his first words fell on the ears
of the listeners.
"Mr. Temple was my friend," he said slowly.
"I was with him the evening he gave his heart
to the Saviour. It was that night that I, also,
was born into the kingdom. The hopes and
the fears, the honest, earnest love for the
Saviour, the consuming desire to lead others to
1 86 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
Him, that Temple possessed, were not hid from
me. I knew of them all, and rejoiced in them.
I remember that several times my friend came
to me and said, with an inexpressible thrill of
joy in his voice, * I am so happy. What a
wonderful, glorious Saviour, to have forgiven me.'
The men in the file-works knew of his former
drinking habits, of his previous efforts at reform,
and of his failures, and were watching him with
interest. It will be a great disappointment to
some of them^ for there are, I believe, hearts
there that are dimly yearning for salvation.
There is but one power that can hinder this
from being a great damage to them. That it
will be overruled, I believe.
"If, however, we know the cause of the sad
"fall ; if, as our pastor says, it was due to the
alcohol in the communion wine, it seems as if
it had been given directly to this church for a
lesson. Paul said he would eat no more meat
while the world stood, if the eating of meat
caused his brother to stumble. And is not that
the spirit of the Gospel from beginning to end.?
Our brother thinks we should follow literally
every move of the Master at the last supper.
Should we not, then, always gather in an upper
room? Should we not partake of unleavened
bread? Should not those who break the bread
Wf/AT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT, 1 87
and 1 our the cup, be also girded with towels,
and wash the disciples' feet ? Perhaps I am
wrong, but I believe the spij^it of the ordinance
is what the Lord wishes, and not the letter.
*In remembrance of Him..' Would it not be a
closer, more loving remembrance of Him, than
we could possibly arrive at otherwise, if we sub-
stituted for the alcoholic wine, the pure juice of
the grape, and in that way removed cause for
stumbling from the path of the weak.^ In doing
this let us not think that we are stooping to
help Steep Street and the mill folk, and that
we are above such temptation, for I recall
another 5uch case, coming to the honored head
of a wealthy family in New York. Any one
who has dallied with this fearful temptation is
in danger, and those who most scornfully scout
the idea are most in peril."
Before this speech was finished the gentleman
took out his watch, looked at it, closed it with
a snap, rose slowly, and passed out. When the
door had closed behind him, and Chamberlain
had seated himself, the pastor put the question,
and, thanks to the sisters present, who all voted
on the right side, the victory was won. The
North Church would no more put temptation to
the lips of her children. The pastor overtook
Chamberlain as he was going home.
1 88 HIS OPPORTUNTTr.
"I want you to join me in prayer for Tem-
ple," he said. "I cannot believe that he will
be lost. I think this church is guilty, and, as
her pastor, I feel the burden of this guilt resting
very heavily upon me. The Lord has said:
*If two of you are agreed as touching any thing,
it shall be done.' Now I most heartily believe
that, and I propose that you and I test it, —
that we prove the Lord."
Kneeling by the roadside, they prayed, and
rose with a feeling that their prayers were
heard, and an assurance that they would be
"There is another burden that I am bearing
before the Lord," said Mr. Snow, with some
hesitation, "and one that I wish you might
share. It is the case of the gentleman who
rose and left the room while you were speaking ;
perhaps you noticed him ? "
" I did ; who was he } "
"Mr. Whitney," was the reply, and Chamber-
lain knew that his opponent in the evening's
debate was the father of Miriam.
"Why did he leave the room so abruptly.'
Was it because he saw that the case was going
against him 1 "
" I do ntjt think so ; I am aware that it
looked much like it, but he has many business
WHAT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT, 1 89
cares, and attended this meeting when he could
really ill afford the time. That I know. The
people of this congregation are somewhat in fear
of him, as he has a remarkable insight into
character, and does not hesitate to condemn
fraud wherever seen. He is the soul of inde-
pendence, thinks and acts for himself, and asks
no one's advice. What he said in the meeting
was his honest opinion. If he ever changes,
he will just as honestly acknowledge it."
"I am glad to know that. He is a noble-
looking man, and it troubled me to think that
his action might be caused by a petty chagrin,"
**And now, my brother, what is the feeling in
the mill toward the great question } What think
the men of Christ 1 You are near to their
hearts. It is said that you are popular among
them. If so, you should be able to put your
finger on their religious pulse and tell just how
it beats. Brother Lamson tells me they are
totally indifferent. He does not appear to be as
sanguine in seeing opportunities to do these
people good as I could wish, but he is cumbered
with many worldly cares. What do you think
of the outlook for a religious awakening in the
**I think that while the men have such an
1 90 fflS OPPORTUNITY,
exarrple as Deacon Lamson daily before them,
they will be exceedingly slow to embrace his
leligion," was the hot reply.
"The unfaithfulness of one man does not in any
way do away with the question of one's personal
responsibility before God," was the solemn reply.
" Of course not."
"Without doubt, Lamson is worldly. How
many of us are entirely free from it? He is
also stern and dignified toward those in his
employ. I could wish that he took a deeper
interest in the young men under his care, but
his probity is unquestioned, and he lives up to
the letter of his profession. Do you not think
"I should be exceedingly glad it if were so,"
"Now my dear young friend," said the pastor,
"remember it is a very serious thing in any
way to pass judgment on a fellow laborer in the
Lord's vineyard, and I would caution you to ex-
amine your own heart carefully before God, and
see if this dislike does not in some way spring
from some earthly or worldly desire in your-
"I don't know how it could. What I have
seen in no way touches me individually," was
the surprised reply.
W//AT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT. IQI
"Let us suppose a case. A young man, bright
and intelligent, through stress of circumstances
is forced to enter a factory to earn his livelihood.
He is superior in birth and education to his
companions and is aware of it, although he is
not conceited. He expects to be rapidly ad-
vanced, especially as he is very faithful in the
performance of his duties. In addition to this,
he joins a church, the same in which the owner
of the factory is a leading member. He has no
thought that this will in any way advance him
temporally, yet the coldness with which the
owner, his brother in Christ, treats him, leads
him, in a measure, to misjudge and dislike him.
Now I will not defend the mill owner in his
coldness and his failure to recognize true merit,
but is the young man fitted to calmly pass judg-
ment on him as a man and a Christian.^ Will
there not be a little of envy and disappointment
intermixed with his estimate of that man?"
Chamberlain laughed a hearty, jolly laugh, and
the pastor joined him.
"Am I not right.!*" he said delightedly, "does
not the cap fit, my brother.? Come you are too
honest a man to deny it when you are fairly
" You have n't hit it," was the reply, with a
very broad sqjile. "There is no advancement
192 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
that Lamson can give me that I covet. I have
ambitions but he cannot help them on. If I
could tell them to any one, it would be to you.
But seriously and honestly, I never expected,
never wished, and would not accept the best place
Lamson could give me."
"Would you not accept more remunerative em-
ployment?" asked the pastor, with an air of
" No, decidedly not." Was the positive reply.
"I am sorry. I thought I had the key to
the whole problem, and had made up my mind
to influence Brother Lamson to accept you as
"Pray do nothing of the kind. I am aware
it is a strange statement to make for a * piece
hand,' a day laborer, but I am perfectly satisfied,
and by being allowed to go my own way, will
sooner accomplish my ambitions than any other
"Is the Lord Jesus Christ with you in these
ambitions.?" Asked Mr. Snow with a piercing
"He is," was the reverent reply.
"Then I am satisfied. Yet I am loth to give
up my wish to serve you; young men are far
too apt to underrate the advantages that may
accrue to them through the influence of friends."
WHAT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT. 193
** There are others in the mill who deserve
promotion, and when you become acquainted with
them they will be delighted beyond measure to
have their merits recognized. I am very grate-
ful, but it is out of the question for me to
wish for any advancement that Mr. Lamson
The good man stood for a few minutes in
deep thought, while Chamberlain waited respect-
fully for him to wholly ease his mind of the
cares and plans for the mill folks and himself.
At length he said,
"Speaking of Brother Lamson, although you
have made no specific charges against him, I
can see that you feel that he is not in the right
place, or to put it more frankly, that he is a
hypocrite. In that, I am certain you are mis-
taken. As your pastor, as well as his, I want
to ask you after prayer for guidance, to go to
him and have an honest, earnest talk with him.
Whatever you may have against him state fully
and clearly, provided it be any thing in which he
is at fault and that touches you. If there is
any thing that after careful weighing you find is
any of your business, go and talk with him, and
I am sure he will meet you kindly and willingly,
and rectify whatever wrong he may intentionally
or unintentionally have done."
194 HIS OPPORl UNITY,
"You are still of the opinion that a part of
my dislike springs from wounded personal van-
ity ? " inquired Chamberlain.
"My brother," was the reply, "I have known
many men, and been able to settle many dif-
ferences among members of my church, and
few there are of the best, but have full as
much personal pride as their profession will
When the good-nights had been said and
Chamberlain had started for home, he found that
he had promised to call upon the lawyer and
talk with him. Looking at the whole affair from
the pastor's stand-point, he wondered that such
a course should have been advised, for the latter
supposed him to be but a workman. Just what
his feelings toward the agent might be at that
moment, he could hardly tell. There was a bare
possibility that the man might be misunderstood
by the people of the village. He had known
of cases where an aristocrat of the strictest prob-
ity and unimpeachable character had been hated
and maligned by the menials in his employ,
till some of the falsehoods were actually believed
and were widely circulated. Lam son had in
many ways striven to hinder him, but that might
be from a mere petty jealousy which was very
far removed from real criminality. Even now the
WHAT THE CHURCH DID ABOUT IT. 1 95
man might be ashamed of it. The case did not
look quite so black from this manner of viewing
it as it did from the other, and Chamberlain re""-
solved at all events to give him a chance to
1 9^ HIS OPPORTUNITY,
H^orrj s • I\e0uesf .
^^i^AN I see Mr. Lamson?"
^^ "What name, sir?" asked the servant.
"Chamberlain," was the reply.
"I will see."
Sitting in the elegantly furnished parlor of
the Lamson house, the visitor looked about with
some curiosity. He had an idea that a bachelor
was likely when furnishing his apartments, in a
measure to express his own individuality. Yet
nothing Lamsonian appeared in this room. There
was no hint at vulgarity, no approach to coarse-
ness; on the contrary it was furnished with
care and delicate taste. He marveled a trifle
at this, till he remembered having heard of the
mother of the lawyer, a quiet, silver-haired,
sweet-faced lady, whom all loved. This was
quite a relief, and the remembrance, rescued with
difficulty from oblivion, became a positive recol-
lectioD. "Lamson's mother 1" The more he
TOM'S REQUEST, IQ/
reflected, the more he wondered if she, with
the usual mother-blindness, adored her son. It
was strange what an influence the knowledge
that this man had a mother, had upon Cham-
berlain. His animosity seemed to lose its edge.
The fact that one person loved Lamson, even
though he might be unworthy, placed him in a
new light, and raised him to a higher grade.
Just then his name was spoken, and the sub-
\ect of his thoughts stood before him.
"Glad to see you. Chamberlain," he said cor-
dially. "Have you at last decided to allow
yourself an evening's relaxation ? I verily be-
lieve you are the hardest worker in the
"Oh, no, there are many who do more than
I. My self-denial, in the way of society pleas-
ures, has been forced, as you must acknowledge.
I enjoy such life too well to be without it oth-
"I hear good reports of you from the work-
men," continued the agent. "With one voice,
they say that you are one of the best men we
have yet had, and that your mastery of the dif-
ferent processes of file-making, is rapid and ac-
"Thank you," was the reply; a flush of pleas-
urc stealing into the brown cheeks. " I aro
19^ HIS OPPORTUNITY,
glad that they think so. Their praise is to bt
"It is, indeed," was the hearty reply.
"My errand here, this evening," said Cham-
berlain, was with reference to Temple."
" Oh," said Lamson, with an impenetrable
"He, as you know, perhaps, leased a room dh
Steep Street, and started a small store."
"It was to be a temperance grocery store,
where, all who wished, could purchase goods
without having liquors thrust under their noses.
Of course this would be an injury to Pfaff, but
every Christian I have yet met has thus far
acknowledged that he is a nuisance. The fact
is, the time has come when that liquor shop in
the lower village ought to be closed."
"Mr. Chamberlain," said Lamson, with an
appearance of sincerity, " you have spoken • of
something that has long worried me. Pfaff is
a nuisance. His rum-shop ought to be shut
up, and, were it possible, should be. But my
hands are tied."
Surprised at the unequivocal condemnation of
the man whom he was said secretly to uphold,
Chamberlain was silent, and Lamson went on.
"Your uncle, Robert Flint, was, in many re«
TOM'S REQUEST. 1 99
spects, a strange man. Whatever he did, he
never would MxiAo. Whatever he said, he stuck
to. Pfaff saved his life, when he was in some
desperate danger in the mill, long years ago, and
he never forgot it. He promised the man
any thing, almost, that he might ask, and, like
a wily fellow that he was, the German asked
for a life-lease of the building in which his
business is situated, and to be allowed to sell
liquor as long as he wished."
"And it was given him.^"
"Certainly. And not only that, but Mr. Flint
made me promise in no way to restrict him in
the full use of his privileges. You can see
how I am placed. I cannot, and will not, break
my word. It will be impossible for any one to
dislodge him, for, as I have said, he holds a
life-lease. He it is who has been, and is,
dragging Steep Street down to bitter and lasting
wretchedness. What can be done is more than
[ can tell. Can you solve this problem } "
Chamberlain pondered. The facts cited by the
agent, if they were facts, put things in an
entirely new light. Might not his, and, indeed,
the general, impression of Lamson be wrong.?
Those who did not know of the life-lease, and
the promise, would be likely to condemn the
agent for the sin that he was, apparently, party
zoo HIS OPPOR TUNITY.
to. People in the upper settlement trusted and
honored him. He had been chosen deacon.
Was not the vulgar prejudice a mistaken one }
Lamson waited, and allowed the leaven of his
words to work in the young man's mind.
"Mr. Lamson," said he, finally, "I wish to beg
your pardon for having doubted you. We are
both members of the same church. We are
disciples of the same Master. I have wronged
you in my thoughts, on this subject, which you
would have explained, had I asked you. Will
you pardon me .? "
" Do not speak of it," was the hearty response.
"You were right in condemning me, if, as you
thought, I could have dislodged Pfaff. Let us
forget it. I have vindicated myself, and we at
last understand one another."
"You were asking," continued Chamberlain,
"what could be done to solve this problem. I
have studied it, and two things are suggested
to me. One is, to give the people of the street
good drinking water, and the other is, to estab-
lish a rival store that shall draw as much trade
as possible away from the liquor-shop."
"Very good, if they were practicable, but I
fear neither is," was the reply, with an intona-
tion of regret.
" I do not agree with you. They both are
TOM*S REQUEST. 201
feasible. For instance, good water can be struck
on the plateau' just above the street/' returned
the young man, warming up to a defense of his
" All the land there is owned by parties who
are at enmity with the file-company. Miss
Whittier would sooner burn her house than sell
a foot of her land. Besides, the water there
would have the same impregnation that all the
welis in the vicinity possess."
"I am sure you will be glad to know you
are wrong. A driven well is already finished
on the other side of Miss Whittier's fence, and
flows pure, cold water enough to supply all
Steep Street, and the mill also,** was the quick
Lamson*s face darkened. Chamberlain did not
notice it, but went on to describe the advantages
that would ensue from such a well, assured that
the agent, although conservative, was with him.
" How is the water to be got to them ? " he
" By pipes running into each house. It would
cost but a trifling sum, and what a blessing it
would be ! *'
Lamson shook his head as if in deep thought.
" Just now," he said slowly, " I am afraid wc
cannot afford to put out any money on piping.
202 ff/s OPPORTUNITY.
I wish we might. The project is a good one.
II is yours, I suppose?"
" Yes," said Chamberlain, with genuine pride,
which displayed itself in his voice, and was
noticed by Lamson.
" It is a noble thought, and no doubt cost you
considerable, or did Miss Whittier assume the
expense," he continued.
'^ did it."
Again the face of the agent assumed its
cloud. Chamberlain, seeing it, laid it to deep
thought, and mentally rejoiced that at last he
had found Lamson so willing to plan for the
prosperity of Steep Street.
" I believe I can see your hand in the new
store, also," said the agent, with a sharp glance.
"That was Temple's thought. I only furnished
Lamson shaded his face and sat for a few
moments in deep thought.
"I suppose," he said, "you would like to have
that continued ? "
"Have you any one in mind to run it?"
" I have not," was the reply.
" I believe I know a man who would be just
the one wanted," averred Lamson. "He lives in
a neighboring town. I will drop him a line,
TOM'S REQUEST. 203
and, if you wish, he will call and see you within
a day or two. Until then, if I were you, I
should keep the place shut."
" Thank you," said Chamberlain, greatly re-
lieved. " I have been puzzled to know whom to
put there. Your help will come in just the
Swayed by the candid confessions of the law-
yer, Chamberlain went away sure that the general
impression among the help, that Lamson was a
rascal and a hypocrite, was without foundation.
As it happened, something occurred that very
evening that led him further to believe in his
innocence as regarded all such charges. Across
the river, just on the edge of the mill-dam,
leading from the factory-yard to the Steep-street
side, ran a foot-bridge. It was a frail structure,
and but little used, except by the "water-gate
tender " in his trips to raise or lower the
"flash-boards." In his determination to become
acquainted with all parts of the vast mill estate.
Chamberlain had often passed over this foot-
bridge. The factory-buildings adjacent to it were
most of them windowless, while the ample yards
were shut in by lofty fences, making it possible
for one standing on this bridge to be as much
alone as if miles away from human habitation.
The waterfall, upon the edge of which the
204 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
bridge clung, tumbled down over a series of
rough granite steps, throwing the sj ray high in
the air, and wetting the branches of the maples
and elms that grew, not alone on either side,
but also on a narrow island strip in mid-stream,
extending close up to the dam. This rocky
island, its sides constantly fretted by the surging
waters, its phalanx of trees, ever narrowing, till
they stood almost in single file at the foot of
the dam, was, to Chamberlain's eyes, a spot of
rare beauty. When the mill was not running
the waters thundered over the dam, sometimes
sweeping over the island, bending down the
underbrush, loosening the boulders, and causing
even the sturdy trees to quiver and shake.
During work-hours, the side-canals drew off the
surplus water, and only narrow threads of silver
splashed over and ran across the rapidly-drying
On the evening in question the young man
had wandered to this spot and stood now in his
favorite attitude, leaning against the railing and
looking down into the empty river-bed. Ab-
sorbed in thought, he did not notice that the
railing, pressed by his weight, was slowly yield-
ing. When at length, it suddenly snapped and
broke, ere he could recover himself, he was
precipitated into the mass of tree-tops that
TOM'S REQUEST. 205
reached up toward him from the little island.
Fortunate for him it was, that they were bound
together by luxuriant grape-vines, that the
branches were green and thrifty, and that so
much intervened to break the fall. As it was,
dizzy, bewildered, stunned, he reached the ground
without serious injury. Upon attempting to rise
he found himself in a curious predicament. The
great oak, into whose friendly arms he had fallen,
had as its neighbor a thrifty young beech.
Wedged between the two, his ankle firmly caught
in a rock-crevice. Chamberlain found he could
not get up unassisted. The distance between the
two trees was enough to admit of his moving
freely, yet held him too tightly to allow him to
release his prisoned foot. In vain he writhed
and squirmed, using his strength, skill, ingenuity.
All were alike useless.
With no little difficulty, he looked at his
watch, which was still running, in spite of the
shaking up it had received, and discovered
that it wanted but five minutes of whistle-time.
At six, the canal-gates would be shut, and the
water would again thunder over the dam. The
very place where he lay, had been for the past
few days swept by an angry torrent, swelled by
recent rains. There was little probability that
the water had lowered enough to make it safe.
206 ffiS OPPORTUmTY.
The dampness of the ground and the tree-trunks
proved that during the brief noon-hour, the
place where he lay had been water-swept. The
steady roar of the machinery would soon give
place to the thunder of the waterfall, and neither
would allow his voice to be heard. The case
looked serious. There was a bare possibility that
the water-gate man might cross the bridge and
might rescue him, but it was a chance in a thou-
sand. One-half the time had already gone swift-
winged, and he was listening with nervous ap-
prehension for the clanking of the gate-chains,
when looking up he saw a man walking leisurely
across the foot-bridge. How his heart beat with
hope and fear ! Nearer came the stranger, and
he raised his voice and cried, " Help ! help ! "
But the clattering and clanging and roaring of
the mills drove the sound away from the friendly
ears. Again he cried, and again with the same
result. The gentleman walked quietly on, and
was passing the place of the accident, when he
noticed the broken rail. With a gesture of sur-
prise, he peered down into the river-bed, and at
once saw Chamberlain looking up to him with
all the eloquence of appeal that a youth threat-
ened with a horrible death could express in a
When Chamberlain saw who it was, as he did
rOM*S REQUEST. 20'j
in a second glance, his heart sank within him,
fo\ he encountered the steel-blue eyes of Lam
son. Why should he have been so disappointed
that it was not some rough workman, or even
some enemy, instead of the polite lawyer? Per-
haps this was because he thought that, were he
ever so anxious, he would not possess the faculty
for a quick rescue, or possibly he had not yet
laid aside his deep-rooted distrust. At all events
it was a most shocking disappointment when he
discovered that his only hope of help lay in this
man in faultless broadcloth. Even in the great-
est extremity one is impressed by the most
trivial things, and as Chamberlain looked up and
saw the broad expanse of spotless linen, and the
rays of the summer-sun struck full on the dia-
mond shirt-stud, he was almost in despair. But
Lamson did not stand idly regarding him. He
called down some sentence which might have
been encouraging or otherwise, so mangled were
the words by the din of the trip-hammers, and
then darted back to the factory. That he could
run, the young man had never imagined, for the
pompous walk had ever seemed a part of his
personality. Soon Lamson reappeared with a long
rope, which, with almost incredible deftness, he
made fast to the planks of the foot-bridge and
then threw down. So sure was the cast that the
20S HIS OPPORTUNITY.
young man laid hold of it, but was even then
not able to extricate himself.
"Send down one of the men/' he called aftei
a violent effort. But Lamson had no such
thought. Already the clanking of the gate-chains
had ceased, and a great silence fallen over the
river-valley. From the street on the further
side of the factory now came the shouts and
laughter of the thronging operatives, striking
with a startling distinctness on the ear of the
imprisoned man at the foot of the fall. With so
much of help so near, and yet to be unable to
take any advantage of it, was like starving in the
midst of plenty. Already the brimming pond
had begun to overflow, and where there had a
moment before been but a few small jets of
water, were now constantly growing streams. A
few minutes* delay would serve to settle the
Bound down as he was, Chamberlain knew
that he could not, by any possibility, keep his
head above even a shallow stream. Meanwhile,
in a sort of doubting stupor, he beheld Lamson
strip off coat and vest and shoes, and swing
himself over the edge of the dam. Not until
after a quick, agile scramble over the slimy
rocks, and he stood by his side, did he com-
prehend that he would actually risk so much
TOM'S REQUEST. 209
for any one. Yet now he stood over him, his
face flushed with the unusual exertion, the
knees of his pants green with rock-slime, his
stockings wet and torn. Without a word he set
at work to loosen the cloven rock that held the
ankle captive, and after a little prying and
pounding, it gave way and rolled into the turgid
stream that had already wet the foot through
and through. With the assistance of the strong
hand, — its firmness and strength impressed the
rescued man with great surprise, — he arose.
"We must be quick unless we wish to climb
these trees and stay all night," said the agent.
"Are you hurt.? Think with a little help you
can go up the rope } "
"Yes, indeed! Go ahead, and I'll follow,"
said Chamberlain, again grasping the outstretched
'*0h, no," was the laughing reply. "I came
down here after you. I am strong and well.
You may be badly hurt without knowing it. It
is wiser for you to go first."
Recognizing the good sense in this, Chamber-
lain acquiesced, and in the face of a fine sheet
of water, with a broad stream falling on each
side, the two men began the ascent. The rocks,
grown more slippery than ever, afforded a most
insecure footing, and the lir seemed full of fall-
210 HIS OPPORTUmTY,
ing water. In an instant they were drenched.
Chamberlain, still dizzy from his fall, several
times swung off from his feet, but the strong
arm of the agent helped him back. As they
neared the edge of the fall, the stream of
water grew denser, and now fell steadily over
them, and seemed to have the weight of hun-
dreds of pounds. When, at last, they stood on
the narrow foot-bridge, Lamson shook the water
from himself like a shaggy water-dog, and said,
"This makes me ten years younger. I
declare, shower-baths agree with me first-
" I wish I could express my gratitude. You
have saved my life. I shall not soon forget it,"
said the rescued man with feeling.
" Nonsense ! Do the same for me when I get
in a similar fix, and it will be all right," was the
careless answer. "Now, you must hurry home.
I am sorry that I can't go with you, but I
think as long as your ankle does not appear to
be sprained, and you have no broken bones, the
exercise of walking will not hurt you. Good
luck, and don't try to emulate Sam Patch any
more, by jumping over falls."
With a quick step and a parting wave of the
hand, the agent walked rapidly away, and Cham-
TOArs REQUEST. 211
berlain started in the opposite direction, his
warm heart overflowing with gratitude toward
his deliverer, and a strong resolution never again
to doubt a man who could show himself at onoe
so brave and so capable.
212 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
Yer)r)is • Gtr)d • Y<2'ir)pei»Gtr)ce.
^^"g AM. sure, Master Tom, they would be very
f glad to have you join them," said old Al-
"It would do me good to have a game, but
file-grinders are not apt to be up in such arts."
"They will never suspect. How should they?
Has not any young man in this country a
right to excel in any game ? Let me introduce
you to them."
"No," was the decided reply. "It was foolish
for me to think of such a thing. I will not in-
trude. They are having a jolly time; why should
it be marred by the presence of a laborer? I
know how they feel."
The old gardener did not reply, but the ex-
pression on his face said plainly that no one
could, for an instant, think Miss Alice's boy an
TENmS AND TEMPERANCE, 213
The two speakers were in the garden, behind
a half-hedge of hollyhocks, looking over at the
beautiful lawn in front of the Flint mansion
There, three persons were playing tennis. One.
of them was Miss Whitney; the other two, a
young lady and a gentleman, were strangers.
They had obtained permission from Lamson to
use the grounds, and now were enjoying theii
liberty to the utmost. At length Miss Whitney
dropped her racquet and strolled away through
the garden. The other two, who were evidently
lovers, seemed not at all loth to have her de-
part, for they at once seated themselves on a
rustic bench and engaged in earnest conversa-
From behind the hollyhocks. Chamberlain
watched the fair girl, as she slowly approached.
With unconscious grace she moved over the
close-cropped grass, toward the spot where stood
the gardener. The old man had, as usual, begun
to prune and pet his plants, and, in so do-
ing, had stepped from behind the screen of
plants and now was in plain sight.
**0h, Allan," she said, with the freedom of
an old acquaintance, "why aren't you a young
man.? A nice-looking, agreeable young man? I
need one this afternoon."
The gardener's eyes twinkled.
214 ffIS OPI^RTUNITY,
** You want one to play tennis with ? '* he
" Yes. Cousin Harvey and Kate are so aw-
fully dull. They do such bare-faced cheating in
favor of one another that it is impossible to
beat them. Can you not change one of these
hollyhocks into a youth, tall and fair, who shall
be my partner and help me win a game ? "
"Master Tom," said Allan, turning toward
him, "fortune favors you.*'
Somewhat embarrassed. Chamberlain stepped
forward, hat in hand, and made a polite bow.
"Pray consider me a transformed hollyhock," he
A wave of crimson swept over the young
"I beg pardon," she said, with just a tinge
of iciness ; " I had no idea that any one, be-
sides the gardener, was present."
" Master Tom is just the one to fill out the
game ; he is a crack player," remarked Allan.
" Do you play tennis, Mr. Chamberlain ? "
asked Miriam, with some surprise.
" I have played," was his modest reply.
Miss Whitney hesitated a moment, then
" I should be very glad to have you join us
in a game, and, ohl" she continued, gaining
TE//NIS AND TEMPERANCE. 215
enthusiasm, " do let us beat Harvey and
Crossing the lawn, he was introduced, and the
game began. Harvey was no poor player, and
when he found that Chamberlain was not a nov-
ice, a new interest lighted his eyes, and he dropped
his listlessness and entered into the game in the
heartiest way imaginable. With the stimulus
of Miriam Whitney's energetic admonition to
**be sure and beat," he played well, perhaps
better than he ever had before; so well, that at
the end of the game, his partner was clapping
her hands at the rueful looks of Harvey and
Kate, for they were badly worsted.
" You play elegantly, Mr. Chamberlain ; better
than any young man in town. What couldn't
you do at tennis, if only you practised 1 " she
The impersonal way in which she spoke this,
the enthusiasm over the game thai made her
forget all in rejoicing, pleased him greatly. He
liked sincerity, and the pleasure expressed by
Miss Whitney was genuine. For the time be-
ing he felt proud and happy, and determined,
if they played again, to do even better than
Harvey, CHamberlain's opponent in the game,
was a fine /oung fellow, fresh from West Point,
2l6 ff/s OPPORTUNITY
and with all the taking ways of a genuine cadet.
He was frank and boyish, and, at the same time,
" Are you summering here ? " asked Harvey.
"No, I work in the file-shops," replied Cham-
** Oh,** said Harvey, with a surprised air.
** Bookkeeping ? ** asked the young man, after
" Oh, no ; I am just now in the foundry-
*' Pretty hard work, isn't it?" asked Harvey.
" Yes, it is ; but I think it a very healthful
life. There is no class of men that I am ac-
quainted with, who are so universally strong and
free from sickness, as are the foundry-men."
** Awful hard drinkers," returned the cadet.
"Some of them."
"What sticks me is, why a laborer can't
drink without making a beast of himself. Now
you can pick out dozens of gentlemen, who
drink for a life-time, and never lose their bal-
" My experience has been, that liquor demoral-
izes a gentleman even more than a laborer,"
" Why, hang it all, excuse me, but I mean
tbo- real, blue-blooded gentlemen, and — you know
TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE. 21/
— perhaps you may not have had a chance to
be with them much."
Ilarvey blurted this out, growing very red, and
trusting to the sincerity and good-heartedness
with which it was spoken, to ward off offense.
" Possibly not," replied the other, with an as-
sured smile ; " but let us take a case in hand.
You would call our Senator M a blue-blooded
gentleman ? "
" I sav/ him three years ago last winter, in
Washington, carried to his room by two porters,
drunk. He certainly looked more demoralized
than a red-shirted workman would have appeared
in the same case. His tall hat was muddy and
jammed ; his gold eye-glasses were broken, and
his gray hair crusted with mud and blood. He
is a princely man, but he had made a beast of
himself. I must confess that the sight was to
me a surprise, at that time, because I believed
as you do. Since then, having taken some pains
to look into the subject, I actually find the
liquor-curse everywhere the same ; in the homes
of wealth and culture, as well as in the work-
At first the young men had been talking
alone, but the girls had drawn near, and now
stood listening to Tom's earnest words.
2l8 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
'* Really, you are quite an apostle of temper-
ance, Mr. Chamberlain," said Kate, with a slight
tone of sarcasm; "but I think you overestimate
its influence upon the educated. It is my belief
that wine is a gift of God ; that wa are to use
it moderately, wisely ; if we find ourselves grow-
ing too fond of it, we should combat it, as we
would any other temptation."
** If you could ask the gentlemen-drunkards
through the world, what had brought them to
their desperate case, I think they would all agree
that it was that creed," was Chamberlain's re-
"There are those that can take wine daily,
and never show it in the least ; good, honest,
Christian gentlemen. Now, there is my uncle,
Mr. Whitney. He is a good example of what I
call the blue-blooded, self-controlled gentleman.
He takes wine at dinner always, and I will
defy any one to say that it affects him," said
Chamberlain glanced involuntarily at Miriam,
Jind was startled at the look of pallor that her
face assumed, when this statement was made
with so much confidence. She was unawaie of
his quick look, and after a brief discussion, dur-
ing which neither side appeared to gain any
decided advantage, each, on the contrary, becom-
TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE. 219
ing more firmly established in their own way of
thinking, the subject was dropped.
Another game of tennis followed, in which
Chamberlain and his fair partner earned more
laurels ; then, excusing himself, he went to say
good-bye to old Allan and Martha, before going
back to Steep Street.
On the evening after this pleasant discus
sion, Chamberlain found himself at the North
Church, enjoying the regular Wednesday-evening
prayer-meeting, and a soul-stirring gathering it
was. Testimonies, exhortations, and prayers were
filled with the fervor that betokens the presence
of the Holy Spirit. Nearly all present had
spoken, even though it was but a word. A spirit
of prayerful anxiety for the unsaved pervaded the
gathering. The conviction had at last found
its way into the minds of the comfortable Chris-
tians of the upper settlement, that there were
souls to be saved in the mill village. For years
it had been quietly conceded that nothing could
be done for this class. Mention was often made
in conference-meetings of the sad state of affairs
among this floating, fighting population, as well
as the exceptional goodness of the upper settle-
ment, but nothing further was done. Now,
however, the interest in the mill folk, instead of
being of the former general nature, was coming
220 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
nearer to practical, individual labor. Chamberlain
entered the church, not as a drone, but as a
worker, and was welcomed, assisted, and encour-
aged. He was thought to be a common workman,
and, at first, was relegated to the place for
laborers, a back seat and silent corner, but he
did not long remain there. A natural speaker,
before he had taken part in many meetings his
every word attracted attention. Speaking, as he
often did, of the factory folk, he was considered
an authority, and was consulted whenever a new
plan was brought up for their welfare. Many
were broached, now that people were fairly
awake, and many a fervent prayer arose for
help for Steep Street.
The mission-school in the room that had once
been a store was, from the first, well supplied
with teachers from the North Church. Chamber-
lain was chosen superintendent, in spite of his
urgent wish to remain in the background.
The people whom this school was designed to
reach seemed proud that one of their number,
as they regarded him, should be considered
the best man to run "the Sabbath-school." It
was strange to hear profane, irreligious file-
workers congratulating themselves that Steep
Street could turn out "just as good Gospel-
slingers as could be found."
TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE, 221
In a manner, the workmen were proud of
Chamberlain. They liked to listen to his straight-
forward testimonies. What he said was always
listened to, and, as yet, in the midst of any
of his talks, there had been no rising and tramp-
ing-out of a restless half-dozen. Most of the
speakers were subject to this annoyance; even
Pastor Snow was not exempt. A very impor-
tant result of the evening meetings and the
Sabbath services was the gradual breaking-down
of the barrier between the people of the upper
village and the mill folk. Little by little, the
bitter hate that had been entertained against
the North Church people was dying out. As
fast as it was seen that the indifference and
contempt of the church-goers either did not exist,
or had been laid aside, the villagers became
cordial. Many of the men on Steep Street at-
tended the meetings, and more would, when they
were assured that it was to be popular. One
among them, however, could not be induced to
come near the room, and that was Sam Putnam.
He refused Chamberlain, with a snappishness in
his tones that the latter had never before heard.
And yet, in his ordinary conversation that day,
he was more affable than usual.
He would not come to the meetings, and his
satellites did as he did. There were those among:
222 ffis OPPORTUNITY.
the workers who believed that Sam would yet
be a follower of the Master. One of the special
subjects of prayer in the new school was this
scoffing giant, who held most of the male pop-
ulation of the village under his control. Night
after night they prayed, and night after night
Sam went the rounds, drank, rioted, and caroused,
ignoring the fact that the soldiers of Prince
Immanuel were preparing for war upon the sin
and misery of Steep Street.
But to return to the prayer-meeting in the
vestry of the North Church. When the people
gathered, the weather was clear and beautiful,
but while the meeting was in session an array
of black clouds came over the sky, and soon a
peal of thunder announced the presence of a
storm. The church was, perhaps, the most unsafe
place in Steelville in which to be during a
thunder-storm. Situated on high ground, having
no trees, nor buildings of any height, about it,
a»d sending a spire two hundred feet into the
ail, ^t was a noted lightning-attractor. Four
limes, during severe storms, had it been struck.
While ♦■-he people did not reproach or blame
the Great r, they never had faith enough to
stay in the building during a shower. So it
happened tha*- when the first peal came, they
began to rise <».nd go out. The pastor, with
TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE. 223
great forethought, at once dismissed the congre-
gation, and all surged toward the doors. The
most fearful started at once for home, through
the pouring rain, rather than run the risk of
being struck by lightning. The fright did not,
by any means, confine itself to the sisters, as
many of the brethren were splashing away from
the - point of danger as fast as their dignity
When the crowd had thinned considerably,
the calmer remnant, standing in the ample porch
had opportunity to observe one another. Cham-
berlain had discovered, some time before, that
Miriam Whitney was one of those without an
umbrella. She was also one who had not tied
a handkerchief over her bonnet, gathered up her
skirts, and fled from the perilous spot.
" This is a very dangerous place, Mr. Cham-
berlain," she observed, with a bewitching smile.
"Aren't you afraid.?"
" I ought to be," answered he. " But, being
somewhat of a stranger, I have yet to learn
just when to be frightened and when to be
brave. I am most unfortunate in not having
brought an umbrella. I could then have relieved
you from any fears that you may have; but as
it is I am powerless. If you intend to stay here
for a few minutes, I will go out and borrow one."
224 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
"I know of a better scheme than that," she
returned, drawing nearer, and lowering her voice.
" In the furnace-room, where the sexton puts
his things, there is a green-silk umbrella. We
can have that, if only we can get it. The sex-
ton is away, or I should have borrowed it of
Chamberlain seized upon the idea, and went at
once to explore that part of the church in which
the furnace-room was situated. He was not long
in finding it, and in discovering further that the
d^or was locked. The only possible mode ot
entrance was by means of a ventilator over the
door. Swinging himself through this, with no
little difficulty, he alighted in an unfinished
room. On one side were piles of kindling, reach-
ing to the ceiling ; on another, a long table,
stained with kerosene, on which stood in a row
the church-lamps with the chimneys tipped back
and wicks turned up ready for lighting. Boxes
and barrels, shovels and hods, filled the centre of
the room. Remembering how umbrellas gravitate
toward corners, he began his search. There were
hosts of things, in the worst possible confusion,
leaning in all the corners, and it was no pleasant
..ask to tip them all forward and look behind
for the green-silk protector. At length, however,
his search was successful, and it was unearthed.
TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE. 225
It was of huge dimensions, and its spread, when
open, was tent-like. Climbing out, after passing
it to Miss Whitney, Chamberlain again stood
in the porch, but this time armed with an um-
brella that was calculated to command respect, if
not awe. All of the feminine part of the con-
gregation had gone, when they stepped out into
the rain. Only a few of the brethren who con-
cluded to "resk it," now remained in the church-
porch. They watched the young couple as they
sallied forth, exchanging a mild joke or two with
regard to there "being room for one more."
The mammoth umbrella, held low, sheltered
them wonderfully. There was a sense of near-
ness and companionship, as they struggled to-
gether against the storm, under one tent, shut
away from the rest of the world. What a thrill
of strength and pride the youth felt, as his fair
companion clung to his arm ! Is there ever, in
young manhood, a more supreme content and
self-exaltation, than exist when he breasts a
storm, be it ever so mild, with the knowledge
that the one by his side is borne along by hia
strength, and depends upon him for guidance
and protection 1
During the walk Miriam talked pleasantly, and
Chamberlain enjoyed himself rarely. When first
he knew Miss Whitney, he felt at times that
226 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
she introduced varied topics, that she might kno\v
the extent of his information. So well was this
done, if indeed it were not all imaginationj that
he had no opportunity to be at all provoked. Of
late, however, not in the slightest degree had
this been apparent. With instinctive pride he
had not done himself injustice, nor had he at-
tempted to air his knowledge. A weaker man
would have done this. A self-educated file-
grinder, unless a miracle of modesty, would have
exhibited, in panoramic succession, his views
on such subjects as he had on hand, and th^at
would have ended the entertainment ; but Cham-
berlain, with the instincts of a true gentleman,
refrained from all ''splurge," and consequently
secured the respect and confidence of the ac-
knowleged belle of Steel ville. How much he
valued these charily bestowed gifts, it would
be hard to express.
In the course of their conversation, Miss Whit-
ney mentioned that her father was ill, and also
that Jim, the hostler, was away that evening,
otherwise he would have come for her. Cham-
berlain expressed his gratitude for these favoring
circumstances, and with a light half-banter, they
chatted till the gateway was reached. Passing
up the broad, gravelled walk, he left his fair
charge on the veranda and started away. He
TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE. 22;
had gone but a few steps when he was hailed
in a rough tone, and turning, saw Mr. Whit-
ney advancing round the side of the house, lan-
tern in hand. He had no hat on, and looked
flushed and excited. As he came forward he
I'jiched from side to side, taking almost all of
the wide pathway. He looked very angry about
**Here, you Jim, why don't you get to the
stable and water the horse t He has n't had a
drink for a fortnight ! He is perishing of thirst.
How many times must I tell you to water him
three times a day .^" he called.
In some bewilderment. Chamberlain glanced
about for Jim. No one was in sight. Even
Miriam had disappeared. Then it flashed over
him that the gentleman mistook him for the
delinquent hostler. Reflecting that it was too
bad for the animal not to have water if he was
thirsty, he took the lantern and started for the
barn, Mr. Whitney following and abusing him
roundly for his negligence. He had, when in
the barn, some little trouble in finding the pail
and the pump. The horse fortunately made
known his abiding place by a gentle whinneying.
Keeping the lantern swinging as much as pes.
sible, and turning away from the gentleman as
much as he could, Chamberlain drew the water
228 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
and gave the animal all he wanted. Then fol
lowing the fault-finding directions, he arranged
the bedding a little differently, loosened the
"throat-latch" of the halter, and did a half-
dozen little chores that seemed to trouble the
owner. Bustling round, lurching against the
stable-walls, hunting up all kinds of faults, Mr.
Whitney was so busy that he did not look at
the face of the hostler. Even when he abused
him, he was examining what was wrong rather
than the appearance of the wrong-doer. As
Chamberlain glanced up to the top of the stairs
that led from the kitchen of the mansion down
to the stable, he saw a white-faced figure
standing in the shadow and was sure it was
Miriam. Sorry that she should witness the scene,
he hurried through with his tasks, and after a
parting salute from Mr. Whitney, slipped away.
Returning to the front path, he recovered the
umbrella from behind the shrub where he had
dropped it, and started for home. The rain had
ceased, and the clouds in broken masses were
rapidly rolling away.
"Mr. Chamberlain," said a voice at his elbow.
He turned and saw Miriam. The moon broke
through the clouds and showed the face white
"Mr Chamberlain, will you pray for ray
TENNIS AND TEMPERANCE 229
father ? " she said. " You know my fears, you
know this terrible secret, and you are the
only one. You said on the tennis ground,
that you believed the Lord would hear prayer
for relatives who were in danger, if only we had
faith to utter them. Will . you pray for my
"We will both pray that his eyes may be
opened to his danger. At nine this evening I
shall be in my room and will pray. Will you,
here at your home, join me in the prayer of
your heart .^**
"I will! I will! And, oh, I hope the Lord
"You may be sure of it," said Chamberlain
with the emphasis of strong faith.
230 ins OPPORTUNITY.
15^ • y ueep • Kisr)ci?rr)€[r).
fpR an eighth of a mile along the river-
bank extended the buildings and yards of
the file-works. Above, on the opposite side, was
Steep Street. Below stretched dense thickets,
through which the cattle from the meadows had
forced narrow paths. On the mill side, the land
was level ; on the other, shelving and hilly.
The higher bank was covered with a mixed
growth of birch, pine, and scrub oak, bound to-
gether with wild grapevines. So dense was this
young forest, that few penetrated it, even the
birds* nesters preferring to go where there was
better traveling. To Chamberlain, this stretch of
woodland had a peculiar charm. Several times
after work-hours, while the days were long, he had
gone into this labyrinth, startling the kingfishers
from their skeleton perches, and rousing the in-
dignation of the red squirrels to its highest
pitch. During his rambles in this miniature wil-
THE QUEER FISHERMAN. 23 1
derness, he had never met a soul, and therefore,
little by little, had come to consider himself as
its only explorer, and to feel a Crusoe-like own-
ership of the wild domain.
One day, as he was walking softly along a
bed of forest-moss that stretched several rods and
was as soft as if woven in Persian looms, he
heard, coming from below at the water's edge, a
clear, tremulous voice. For an instant, he was
in doubt as to where he had heard those tones
before, but a moment's reflection brought back
the midnight scene in the rear of the file-works.
There could be no mistake ; the Scotch accent,
the plaintive cadence, the mellow clearness, be-
longed to none but the voice of that night. It
must be Tam.
" Oh, Lord, saund me a fish," said the voice.
Chamberlain, remembering the shyness shown
on the former occasion, peered cautiously through
the thick-standing trees, to catch a glimpse of
him. At first he was unsuccessful, but soon he
saw, bending over the water, a figure dressed in
t workman's suit, holding a fishing-pole.
** Oh, Lord, remember poor Tam, and saund
him a fish," he prayed.
Cautiously, step by step. Chamberlain stole
near the fisherman. At last, he was as clo&e as
he could safely come, without being detected
232 HIS OPPORTUNITY
Not far from Tarn, at the foot of a huge tree,
burned a tiny fire in a fireplace of stones.
Leaving his fish-pole, ever and anon, the little
Scotchman replenished this fire, and then went
back to pray the more earnestly for "a fish,
just one wee fish." There was in the words, — in
all the acts of the little old man, — an absolute,
Cinwavering faith, that seemed sure of success. He
would catch, the fish. Chamberlain felt positive,
even if it were the first and last that ever in-
habited those waters. The young man longed to
have a good look at the face of the fisherman,
and soon the opportunity was given. A blue-
jay lit in the tree behind which he was hidden,
and began screaming its shrill alarm, till the
woods rang. The Scotchman turned toward it,
with his finger on his lips. " Peace," he said,
*' would ye tal the world that Tarn is here } "
The jay flew off. Chamberlain, with a strange
fascination, was gazing at the face that he now,
for the first time, saw. It was seamed and
scarred till it had almost lost the likeness of
humanity. Only the great, sad eyes, dark and
full, redeemed it from being hideous. The hands,
too, he noticed, were warped and scarred in the
same way. Some great calamity had befallen
this man. What it was, he could not con-
THE QUEER FISHERMAN. 233
" Thank the Lord ! He has saunt me a fish,**
said Tarn, suddenly drawing the pole up fiom
the water. On its end was a curious net, in
which struggled a fine perch. With accustomed
hand, the lonely fisherman dressed it, and soon
had it cooking over the coals. Spell-bound by
the strangeness of the scene, Chamberlain re-
mained in his hiding place. According to cus-
tom, the little man discoursed to himself, of
things that happened in the past, of affairs at
the mill, using names that made the listener
start with surprise. Much of what he said was
incomprehensible, yet there were many sentences
which, although without present meaning, were
laid away in memory's storehouse, some day to
be of use. When the simple meal was cooked,
the Scotchman took off his cap and, reverently
"O Lord," he said, "luke doon into these
woods to poor Tam ! From Thy Throne in the
heavens bend doon and listen. Here is one,
Lord, who has not bowed the knee to Lamson,
nor consented to his iniquity. Here is one, who,
that he might keep the word of Thy patience,
refused to join hands with the ungodly, and is
now an outcast because of it. *Twas no' because
I was better than many another, but rather be-
cause I one day expect to meet Thee, my Re-
234 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
deeraer, face to face. I dare not do wrong when
I think of this. I remember also, dear Lord,
how Thou didst deliver me from mine appetite,
how Thou didst rebuke the destroyer and set
me free. I praise Thee for it. Keep me in Thy
holy keeping and let me never stray from Thee.
When he had finished his unique grace, the
hermit drew some crackers from his pocket and
made a hearty meal, finishing with a draught of
river-water. He then carefully extinguished the
fire, threw the stones into the water, and cov-
ered the blackened embers with earth and leaves.
After this, he washed with scrupulous care. He
then parted the bushes and vanished — so quietly
and quickly, that Chamberlain was for a moment
too much surprised to follow. Then remember-
ing that this strange being was possessed of
much valuable information about the mills, and
that he mentioned many things that held a de-
cided air of mystery, he attempted to go after him.
Quickly and noiselessly, he stole down to the
small, open space where the repast had been
eaten, and glanced hastily about. Not seeing
him, he plunged into the thicket that had, but a
few seconds prior, hidden the slight form of the
fisherman. Once in this dense growth, he was
unable to make any progress. Not only were the
TVR QUEER FISHERMAN. 235
trees growing close and in inextricable confusion,
but the worst of all creepers, the squirrel-vine,
with its armor of thorns, had bound and lashed
the mass of living verdure so tightly together, that
it seemed hardly possible that even a rabbit could
find a pathway. After a short and fruitless strug-
gle. Chamberlain retreated with scratched hands
and torn clothes.
How the Scotchman had penetrated it, was a
mystery. For an instant he pondered, and then
started up the bank, and avoiding the most
tangled portions of the forest, made his way
t-apidly in the direction of the mills. He was
sure that some portion of the factory-yard was
the destination of the Scotchman. The river was
too wide to be crossed except at the bridges.
A narrow foot-bridge led across the stream near
the path that had been the scene of his former
adventure with Tam, and it was here that he
expected him to make his appearance. Hurrying
forward, he reached this bridge and stationed
himself where he could command a full view of
it and the footpath that led from it. His
assumption was well based, for a few moments
later Tam came in sight, crossed stealthily to the
further side, and hurried along in the direction
of the deserted yards. When he was far enough
ahead, Chamberlain followed, curious to know
236 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
how he accomplished the seemingly impossible
feat of surmounting the wall.
In the shadow of the fence, he followed the
figure till almost opposite the spot where he had
stood and listened so long on a former occasion.
Here Tam paused, glanced in all directions to
see if the coast was clear, then seized one of
the fence boards by its lower end, slid it up
several feet from the ground, and crept under,
then pushed it into its place again. As soon as
this was done Chamberlain came forward to note
carefully the gateway that the little hermit had
made use of. Reaching the place, his quick eye
at once detected the very board that had been
raised. It was slightly discolored at the lower
end, and when carefully examined had the un-
stable air that things which are not solidly fast-
ened are apt to have. Yet the casual observer
would never have dreamed that it differed from
the rest of the spike-capped boards of the fence.
To be so sure of the location that he might
know the place, even in the night, Chamberlain
looked about for bearings. A stone or a stump
close at hand would be all that he wished.
As he scanned the surface of the field for such
a landmark, he saw by the narrow foot-path, ex-
actly opposite the secret gateway, a stake of hard
wood driven so deep into the ground as to be
THE QUEER FISHERMAN. 23/
almost hidden. This, then, was some one's guide-
post. It did not seem likely that it was used
by Tam, for such characters never need land-
marks. They invariably possess an instinct
that is most reliable and above outside help.
Aware of this fact, Chamberlain pondered the
matter and wondered if others knew of that
way of entering the proscribed precincts of the
The many sentences dropped by the little
Scotchman had awakened in him a growing dis-
trust of the mill management. To be sure,
Lamson's plausible explanation of Pfaff's presence
and privileges in the mill settlement had so far
overcome his former suspicion that he had
frankly begged the agent's pardon. Yet here
was this strange hermit fisherman, — this man
who seemed perfectly well to have known not
only his uncle Robert Flint, but his father as
well — speaking of some deep plot that was de-
,priving the company of legitimate profits. That
there was something back of all this, Chamber-
lain could not but believe. Yet what it was
remained a mystery. With all the acuteness that
he naturally possessed, he found it impossible to
get on the track of anything wrong in the file
business. Most carefully had he watched places
where it seemed to him fraud would most likely
238 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
be practised, but no sign of anything wrong had
As he recrossed the river on his way to Steep
Street, a white, haggard face strained toward him
out of the thick bushes. Chamberlain did not
see it and went on unconsciously. When he had
passed, its possessor rose and stood with an
anguished, despairing look, gazing after him. It
was John Temple.
That very evening, an hour later, an important
errand called Chamberlain to the mill, and after
it was accomplished, he started to pass around
the building, attracted to the rear yard by the
knowledge of its mysterious tenant.
" Going down the haunted path } " inquired
one of the watchmen, who was standing, lantern
in hand, near the corner.
"Why, the river-path. It's ha'nted, you know."
"What haunts it?" inquired Chamberlain, with
"O, I dunno, ghosts or something. I believe
there was a man murdered along there three
years ago, and he has been seen walking up and
down the path."
Tom started on without further question and
had gone but a few paces, when the watchman
again hailed him. ^
THE QUEER FISHERMAN, 239
"Better come through the yard with me," he
"I'm not afraid."
"That don't count either way," said the other
earnestly; "a young feller like you don't want
to poke his nose into any ghost business. It 's
The more anxious he was to keep the young
man away from the river-path, the more deter-
mined Chamberlain was to explore it. He there-
fore started down the path and was soon alone
in the darkness. Although he had so carefully
noted the tiny landmark, it took him some time
to identify it. When at last it was discovered,
and he stood again with his ear close to the
hidden gateway, he was tempted , to explore
the dark yard then and there. Whether or not
he would have carried out his wish cannot be
told, for so intently was he listening for Tarn's
tremulous voice, that he did not hear the soft
step behind him, nor did he take alarm until
strong arms were thrown around him and he
found himself on the ground. He used all of
his strength in attempting to free himself from
his unseen antagonist, yet without avail ; and in a
short time, breathless and wearied, he lay con-
quered, his hands lashed firmly to his sides, a
handkerchief bound tightly about his eyes. He
240 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
Uttered no cry, for the uselessness of it was ap-
parent to him. None would come to his rescue
on the "haunted path." A muscular arm raised
him to his feet and turned him around and around
till he was so dizzy that he almost fell down, and
then before he could in any way recover the lost
bearings, he was led away. For some minutes
they kept to the path, -then reached rough
ground, where he was pulled over rocks and
stumps in a most unceremonious manner. At
length, after splashing through a shallow brook
or pool, a building was entered, as Chamberlain
knew by the difference in the air. Here a halt
was made, and after a whispered consultation the
bandage was taken from his eyes. With great
curiosity he looked about and found himself in a
large room, dimly lighted by two or three
candles. The monstrous shadows and the vast
emptiness of the place had a most weird effect,
and no doubt our hero would have been
frightened had he not recognized the place as
the "gate-house" to the rear yard, explored by
him one noon. His captors had left him in the
middle of the apartment and were gone before
he had seen them. On attempting to move, he
found that the line securing his hands was
made fast to an iron bar that stood up from
the plank floor. Willing to test the strength of
THE QUEER FISHERMAN. 24 1
his fastenings and much reassured when he
knew that he was in the mill, he began
vigorously to struggle. As he did so an un-
earthly groan rang through the empty spaces of
the great room.
"He struggles. Shall they be his lasht?" asked
a hollow voice.
"Yea," responded a chorus, which Chamber-
lain estimated contained three voices, including
the Hibernian interlocutor. As he had been in
more than one college scrape of a nature simi-
lar to this, he felt at home, and was pondering
the best course to pursue, when a happy thought
struck him. He saw no one, but without doubt
he was observed. If he appeared so overcome
by fear as to faint, would they not show them-
" The executioner comes," said the sepulchral
voice, with its ridiculous intonation and accent,
and, with measured stride, a white-robed figure
appeared and advanced.
" Oh ! spare me ! spare me ! I '11 never go
near the haunted path again," shrieked Chamber-
lain, with an agony so startling that even the
" Will you shware it .^ "
But no answer came. The captive had fainted
and fallen in a heap upon the floor.
242 ms OPPORTUNITY,
The ghost paused irresolutely, then advanced
cautiously and raised the limp hand.
*'Come out here, Mike," he said. "The lad
has fainted dead away. Let *s carry him out,
and leave him by the road-side. He will never
trouble us again."
" By the howly St. Pathrick, but that was
well done," said the interlocutor, coming out of a
shadowy corner. " Here, Jack, lend us a hand."
As they prepared to raise the prostrate figure,
the passage-window, through which Chamberlain
had entered on his first visit, was opened, and
Sam Putnam swung himself in.
"What in thunder are you fellers up to.^" he
asked, in great astonishment.
" We have been givin' this bye a lesson on
the dangerosity av inquisitiveness," replied Mike,
with an abashed air.
" Who is it ? Why, it 's young Chamberlain !
Who hit him.> What's the matter .5* "
" He 's only sheared. We showed him a ghost,
and he fainted, that 's all."
" Well, how did he come here .? " asked the
giant, with an angry ring in his voice.
Meekly Mike narrated the watchman's attempt
to keep him away, his attitude of listening at
the secret gate, and the method of capture.
When he had finished, Sara said, abruptly, —
THE QUEER FISHERMAN. 243
"Get back to your places, every one of you,
and don't try any more risky work, whatever
Obediently the three filed out, and left Putnam
with the captive. Thinking it time to recover,
the latter sighed heavily and opened his eyes.
" Get up," was the not-unkindly command.
" My hands are tied, and I don't think I can,"
was the reply.
With an expression of entire disgust, Putnam
cut the cords and led the young man to the
window. Both climbed out and stood in the
"I suppose this foolish joke on the part of
the * night-puddlers * will be told all over the
mill by you to-morrow ? " enquired Sam, gloom-
Surprised that he was not threatened, Cham-
berlain replied :
" There is no special need of my telling any
"I wish you would keep it quiet, then. They
are good fellows, and were only on a lark."
" Why are they about this part of the mill,
instead of being near the furnaces ? " asked
Chamberlain, but received no answer. Without
further conversation the two walked to one of
the side-gates, and the intruder was dismissed,
244 ^/-y OPPORTUNITY,
with a gruff "good-night." As Sam went back
to the rear yard, he muttered to himself, —
"If that young feller hasn't some object in
hanging around here, I am mistaken. There
ain't a thing happens in the works, but he
knows. I don't wonder the dekin hates him.*'
MRS. BOWMAJrS BURGLAR. 245
m RS. BOWMAN'S husband had been a
soldier ; and, although not slain by a
bullet, he came home to die a victim to the
decanter. Wnether he was a brave man or not
does not appear, but were one to judge him by
his only son, poor Rob, he must have been one
of the most arrant cowards in existence. Mrs.
Bowman, on the contrary, feared nothing. As
muscular as a man, and possessed of an iron
constitution, coupled with untiring energy, she
was the exact opposite of her shiftless, easy-
Among the happenings that took place during
the stay of Chamberlain, was the payment of
quite a sum of money, "back-pay," that stood
to her husband's credit with the government.
The widow, fearing the banks, resolved to keep
it in her own house, and, as she supposed, had
no confidants in this decision. One night, not
24^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
long after the sum had been received, the lady
of the house was awakened by a noise on the
lower floor. Thinking it must be some drunken
man from the village, she stepped into her son's
room and told him to go down and investigate.
With horror unfeigned, he refused. He would
go nowhere without company, and the idea of
descending the stairs to meet a possible ghost,
or midnight-assassin, was more than he would
entertain. Mrs. Bowman, therefore, started down
the stairs to wreak substantial vengeance upon
the intruder, should he be found.
Her quest was more successful than she had
supposed it would be, for, in the kitchen, trying
to open the tiny medicine-closet over the fire-
place was a man. She recognized Gaffney, as
she supposed, and at once settled upon a plan
for punishment that seemed suited to the offense.
Near the chimney was a brick-lined coal-closet,
with a door almost ponderous in strength. It
was now empty, and she resolved to put him
in it. The door stood slightly ajar, and she felt
certain that, could she take him by surprise,
she could hustle him in there before he had
time to resist. Swiftly and noiselessly she ad-
vanced, and seized him by the collar, and in a
twinkling he was a prisoner, and the door was
securely bolted. Then, without a word, she re-
AfRS. BOlVAfAN'S BURGLAR, 247
turned to her room, and slept soundly till
The first one up in the house, she was about
to open the impromptu cell, and release the
town drunkard, when she noticed, lying on the
table, a valise, which, being partly open, dis-
played a set of tools' such as she had never
before seen. More from instinct than from any
appreciation of possible danger, she called Cham-
berlain's attention to them, and he at once pro-
nounced them burglar's tools. His statement
was corroborated by two men, who happened to
be passing at the time, and who, producing
hand-cuffs, informed the astonished household that
they were city officers, on the track of a noto-
rious house-breaker. They felt extremely well
over their luck, and, after a brief preparation,
opened the door and secured their man.
" One thing I should like to know," he said,
as the "wristers" were put on. "What man
took me ? "
" Man ! " said Mrs. Bowman. ** It was only
me ! Why, I could handle two of you, even if
you be a buggler ! "
"Well," said the house-breaker, as he departed,
" you 've done what few men could do. Slippery
Jack caught by a woman ! I '11 go out of the
248 Hla OPPORTUNITY.
At once Mrs. Bowman was a heroine. Het
name came out in the city papers. All praised
her. But, as they lauded her exploit, they
laughed at Rob, who was more dejected than
ever. In a most melancholy state of mind, he
sought Chamberlain, as he was doing some e/en-
ing work in the mill, and confided to his mus-
cular friend all of his trouble. The young man
was greatly amused over the other's earnestness
and honesty in confessing his cowardice, and
asking advice as to its cure.
** Have you ever asked the Lord to make you
brave ? " said he, finally.
*' No-o,** replied Rob, slowly. " I did n*t know
as he would care to help a feller in that line.'*
"The next time you see any thing that
frightens you, just pray as hard as you can,
and go and examine it. You may be sure the
Lord will take care of you."
Rob promised, and started for home, greatly
cheered. Even in going the short distance be-
tween the mill and his house, he had a chance
to test his new plan, for on the opposite side
of the street stood a white, ghostly figure,
raising its hands as if to warn him away. His
first impulse was to run, but a second helj^cd
him to overcome it. Advancing toward it, he
MRS, BOWMAJST'S BURGLAR. 249
"O! Lord help me! O! Lord help me!"
Closer and closer he came, and still it did
not vanish. His prayer became almost frantic,
and the sweat stood in drops on his forehead.
As he reached the figure, with a shudder, he
put out his hand, and felt, — a common stone-
post with a shirt tied around it, the sleeves
flapping in the wind. A spasm of joy almost
choked him. The Lord had helped him. He
had been brave for once ; had taken the first
step toward the self-command necessary to true
manhood. He did not see two fun-loving
file-workers slip away in the darkness, nor did
he hear the surprised exclamation :
"I never believed the little feller had half as
much pluck ! "
Rob did not stop here, however; he continued
to grow in courage. He surprised his mother
by offering to institute family worship. He act-
ually spoke in prayer-meeting shortly after, and
did well, too. And better still, he called at the
home of one of the worst men in the settle-
ment one evening, in great fear and trembling,
to be sure, but praying with all his might, and
spoke words of such power that the worthless
scapegrace owned the misery of the life he led,
and his desire for a nobler one.
*' I 've found the secret of strength," he said
250 mS OPPORTUNITY.
to Chamberlain. "It is to put it all on to the
Lord's shoulders. Why, two weeks ago I was
so weak that I could n't go by a beer shop
without yeilding to the desire for drink ; and I
was so cowardly that I used to get mother to
go with me to the mill and come for me after-
wards. I never dared to go anywhere, unless
with a crowd. I s'pose every one despised me,
— I know they did, — but the Lord didn't. But
now when I get frightened, I just say, *0 Lord,
this is your world, don't let any thing in it
hurt me ; and if I must be hurt, help me to
bear it like a Christian,* — and he is with me
Mrs. Bowman was not blind to the great change
that had come over her son. He no longer
drank, and for that she greatly rejoiced ; yet
she was not satisfied. The utter dependence
that her boy had placed upon her, even when
he was led by evil companions, was exceedingly
sweet. She was only too glad to be brave for
him ; to go to the mill ; to meet him dark
nights ; to help him in his chores ; to protect
him. Now as he stood up and acted and lived
for himself, she could hardly bear it. The neW'
found strength appeared to rob her of her child,
and the poor woman was wretched. It was not
jealousy that made her feel thus disappointed.
MRS, BOWMAN'S BURGLAR, 2$!
but a misguided, but tender, mother-love. She
tried in many ways to get him back to the
former state of dependence ; she " wanted her
baby again." It would have been a relief to
her to have him get thoroughly frightened and
claim her protection. She found that they were
growing apart, and felt as if he were robbing
her of one of her prerogatives in being brave.
Yet she saw, with increasing joy, that Rob im-
proved. One night, waking suddenly, she saw
what looked like the figure of a man leaning
over a chair as if to reach the bureau where
their money was kept, and hoping Rob would
claim her protection, she awoke him in pre-
tended terror. Rising, he entered the room, laid
his hand on the figure, and it resolved itself
into a pile of clothing. This was almost too
much for the woman to bear; she felt like cry-
ing over the failure.
It happened at this time that the upper town
was excavating a reservoir not far from Mrs.
Bowman's house. The water ran in so fast — as
the ground was springy — that a pump must be
kept going all night, the workman receiving
double pay. Rob applied for and received the job.
His mother remonstrated, coaxed, and drew fright-
ful pictures of midnight darkness ; and it must
be confessed Rob trembled not a little, but did
2S3 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
not change his mind. He was to pump from
three in the afternoon till twelve at night, when
he would be relieved. The foolish woman, racked
with the thought that her boy was more and
more lost to her, resolved that night to win him
back if possible.
The situation of the reservoir was dismal enough.
Only a few empty houses were near, and the
road was little traveled in the night. Of course
Rob had a touch of his old timidity; but he
kept pumping and praying, and got over it after
a while; and when the cold shivers ceased to
chase each other up and down his back, he felt
happy. The man who was to relieve him came
at eleven, and fussing around, put up a shelter
against possible rain, and settled down to work
just as the clock struck twelve. Rob then went
home through the silent streets, with his heart
in his mouth, and a prayer crowding it down.
Nothing evil happened. He unlocked the door,
stepped in, closed and locked it again, went up
stairs, read his chapter, retired, and was soon
sound asleep. How long he had slept is uncer-
tain, when suddenly awakening he listened. No
sound but the beating of — crash! a sudden heavy
fall in the wood-shed, followed by a long silence.
Rob trembled as if in an ague fit, and lay still,
hoping Chamberlain would be roused. Five min-
MRS. BOWMAN'S BURGLAR. 253
utes passed, — ten; it must have been imagina
tion. Perhaps it was the cat knocking something
down ; there were lots of cats — bang ! came
another heavy fall, close to the kitchen door.
He was now praying for dear life, and strange
to say, was gaining courage. Soon he rose and
lighted a lamp, and before going further, read
a few vers.es from his Bible. He then quickly
dressed, took the Bible and the light, and started
for the wood-shed, praying as he went. Reaching
the kitchen door, with white cheeks and beating
heart, he drew the bolt and stepped into the
shed; as he did so, a ghastly, muddy, ragged
creature partly raised herself from the floor and
looked wildly at him.
But we must go back a little. Mrs. Bowman,
as has been stated, had determined to win Rob
back to her that night, or never. At about
quarter of eleven, with a sheet folded under her
arm, she started for the reservoir with the in-
tention of giving him a good scare, and then
protecting him. As she came in sight of the
little lantern which threw a giant shadow of Rob
across the street, and grotesquely copied every
movement, she heard the clock strike eleven.
Her son stood with his back to the pit, pump-
ing leisurely. A short ladder went down to the
pit's bottom, and rested upon a little platform
254 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
of earth. Supposing that Rob would have to
come down there for something or other, she
descended, wrapped herself in the sheet, and
waited. Soon she heaid voices.
"Take the ladder,** shouted her son.
"What.?" asked the other.
"Take the ladder.'*
"That man must be pretty deaf,** thought Mrs.
Bowman. "I wish he'd go away, and Rob would
At that moment the ladder was drawn up,
leaving her there without means of escape ! Her
first impulse was to call out, but pride held her
back. They would undoubtedly put it down again,
she argued. In this she was disappointed, as
the possessor was building a shelter from a horse
blanket, a pole, and the ladder.
Soon Rob said good-night, and left. Every
thing grew quiet again, and there was no sound
but the dull strokes of the pump. Chilled and
disappointed, she waited a few minutes, and then
"Mister!** said she softly.
"Mister!** louder still.
" Mister ! *' shrieking.
Chunk — chunk — chunk, went the pump steadily
MRS. BOH^AATS BURGLAR. 255
*' Fire ! Murder ! "
Chunk — chunk — chunk.
She threw stones. The first struck the wall
of earth in front of her; the second nearly pulled
her off of the little platform, and to keep from
falling she put one foot down into the cold water
that reacli.sd nearly to her knee; the third came
down on her head. What should she do.? Il
was very cold. She called again, tried to climb
up the damp, earthy side, and slipped off into
the water. She threw more stones, and finally
prayed. Soon after, it occurred to her to pull
up the hose and stop the pumping. A wet,
slippery search revealed it after a while, and the
pump coughed, strangled, and stopped. After an
age of deliberation, the ladder was let slowly
down into the pit, and the man started to fol-
low it, when what appeared to be a monstei
from the depths of the earth, sprang up its
welcome rounds and disappeared in the direction
of Steep Street. The pumper fled in the opposite
Reaching home, Mrs. Bowman entered the
woodshed through the window and started for
the kitchen door. The saw-horse maliciously stood
in the way, caught her dress with its rigid arms,
and threw her headlong. Somewhat stunned, she
arose, groped around for a while, and got lost ;
256 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
thought she saw a light, started eagerly toward
it, met the saw-horse again, and was thrown
into an empty coal-hod. The rake dropped across
her back, a coal-sieve fell on her head, her foot
caught in a crack in the floor and would n't
come out, and to cap it all, Rob came with a
lamp and ordered her off the premises ! With
difficulty, she recovered herself enough to make
herself known, when Rob helped her up and
into the kitchen. Then, like the kindly son that
he was, he brought dry clothing, untied her
soaking shoes, and was so good and tender that
the widow actually broke down and cried, em-
bracing him the while with such energy that it
took his breath away.
"Where have you been, mother?** he finally
asked, in wonder.
"O Rob, I*m a wicked woman. I went out
a puppus to scare you, and the Lord punished
me for it. I 've been down in the reservoy."
"To scare me I Don't you want me to be a
man.?** asked the son, with a quiver on his lip.
" Yes, yes ; but I want you to love me — to
let me do for you. For years I *ve stood between
you and every danger, and now you put me aside.
I 'm a fool, — I know I am, — but it's because
I love you so.**
Rob understood without any more explanatioi..
MKS. BOWMAN'S BURGLAR. 2^J
and kissed the faded cheek, and laughed a quiet
"Don't you fret, my mother," he said, affec-
tionately ; " you 'U never lose your grip on me ;
and as for my getting along without you, it
couldn't be done."
2 5^ tfl!i OPPORTUNITY.
§ATURDAY night was, with the Steep-street
population, the grand carousal time of the
week, and on Sunday they slept. Whether they
respected the Sabbath enough to keep it free
from their orgies, or whether they could not wait
until that day, but must needs begin as soon as
free from the week's labor, is an open question.
Certain it is that Saturday night, — the whole of
it, — was as noisy and turbulent as any inmate
of. bedlam could wish. Possessors of clear con-
sciences and good digestion slept during these
hilarious times, but the nervous and dyspeptic
were kept awake. Among the former class was
Chamberlain. As a rule, little of Steep-street
rioting did he hear, after the first week or two
of his novitiate. Soundly and sweetly he slept,
while drunken songs, oaths, yells, and a medley
of hideous noises came up from the lower end
of the settlement.
pfafp's picnic. 259
Perhaps, had he been more wakeful, he might
have prevented Pfaff's picnic, but on second
thought it was much better that sleep held him
fast, for the rough, half -intoxicated men might
have injured him. In order to describe the pic-
nic, we must go back a little. Lamson had
promised, with seeming sincerity, to provide the
new store with a suitable manager. This he
did, introducing a Mr. Drummond, who said he
was acquainted with the business, and was more-
over a strict temperance man. Lamson only
knew of him by hearsay, but he produced
a letter from the pastor of a church some miles
away, that gave him a good character. As
Chamberlain could not, by any possibility, run
the store himself, he was very much relieved
when this person presented himself, and the
bargain was completed. For several days the
business had gone on swimmingly, then came the
picnic. It had been Pfaff's plan, and he had made
most elaborate preparations. Nearly all of the
engine company were invited, together with three
or four outsiders, who were known to be hard
drinkers and desperate rioters. Precisely what
the programme was, none of the men knew, but
that plenty of liquor would be provided and that
some frolic was to be indulged in, all were aware.
They gathered therefore in the rumseller's upper
260 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
room, where pipes and liquors were at once lib-
"What is all this for?" asked on€.
"For nothing! AH free!" replied PfafE.
" Yes, but what is the cause of this picnic ?
Plad any good luck?"
"Oh," returned he, "this is my birthday; I am
celebrating for that. I want all the boys to
drink my good health."
There were few in that company who needed
urging. Sam Putnam, with his usual self-poise,
held off as long as any, but at last was pre-
vailed upon to drink, and ere long was as wild
and ready for "some fun" as any of the rest
of them. When the company were ripe for the
sport, Pfaff proposed it.
" Boys," he said, " this ain't only a picnic it 's
a surprise party."
" Who on ? " some one asked.
"Do you remember the store that sold Gaffney
kerosene and almost poisoned him ? "
"I guess we do," was the reply.
"Don't I?" said Gaffney.
"Well, look here, I found the keys to it in
the street this afternoon."
Pfaff held up the bunch of keys and looked
around in triumph.
"What of that?"
PFAFF'S PICNIC, 261
"Well, we will give that store a surprise party.
We will go in and have a circus, — a picnic.
They say there never shall be a drop of liquor
drank in that store. Let 's make them lie ; let 's
take a pail of liquor up there and drink it!"
The proposition was received with acclamation,
and soon the whole party were on their way
to the place.
Pfaff took the lead, and when the building
was reached, unlocked the door and let his fol-
lowers in. With suspicious readiness, he found
lamps and lighted them, keeping the shutters
closed, that there might not be too much dis-
play made to outsiders. Crackers, cheese, prunes,
and dried currants were then handed out over
the counter by the genial German, whose jokes
at the expense of the unfortunate proprietor of
the store were so exceedingly funny, that the
men almost went into fits, laughing.
By degrees, the spirit of mischief grew stronger
among the visitors. With malignant glee, they
broke open barrels of flour, pulled the spigot
oat of the vinegar cask, smashed boxes of spices,
and acted like a band of Apache Indians. In
the two hours of rough sport in which they in-
dulged, there was more damage inflicted than
hundreds of dollars could replace. At last, when
the work was about done to Pfaff's satisfaction,
262 HIS OFFORFUNITY.
he proposed an adjournment to his own store for
more liquor. He was the most sober man of
the party, and therefore the leader. With noisy
songs, by twos and threes, they straggled down
toward the rumshop. Once there, the liquor-
seller threw the keys into the river and with a
sigh of relief, took a long drink. As a rule, he
was not given to drinking. He was too mean
to do much more than drain the glasses for
which others paid. Yet he had in the years
past awakened an appetite that would some day,
and that not far distant, drag him to the lowest
level, if it were possible to further debase any-
thing so degraded. Now that his picnic was a
success, he drank heavily.
Pfaff felt that he had triumphed. His two
great enemies in the village, as he believed,
were the temperance-store and the new water-
works. He hated one as much as the other.
Both favored temperance, both injured his busi-
ness, and he felt that he must crush them
together. The store had received its death blow.
What a grand success it would be, could he,
that very night, in some way, destroy the
beautiful fountain that was playing at the head
of the street ! He had heard its waters praised
by the people on the street till he was sick of
the name of it. Now if he could spoil it, would
PFAFF'S PICNIC. 263
not that be the most joyful moment of his life ?
He was just drunk enough to appreciate and
pity the intoxication of his companions. Stealing
away from them, he procured a hammer and
two or three keg bungs, and started up the
street. In his befogged intellect was the idea
that he could, with these things, plug the pipe
through which the water came. He argued that
once were the water stopped, the pressure ac-
cumulating in the pipe would burst it, and thus
forever do away with the possibility of the hated
"sweet water" ever again appearing at the sur-
face at Steep Street.
Chuckling to himself at the thought of his own
bright views, he staggered up the street, stop-
ping at the store to give the door a triumphant
kick. Then he made his way up to the litlle
plateau, where spouted the obnoxious fountain.
As yet the pipes had not been laid to conduct
water to the houses. Indeed although it had
already furnished water to almost all of the
water-drinkers below, it was in an unfinished
condition. A single inch-pipe, eighteen inches
long, rose from a rough platform of planks.
Through this the water flowed clear, cold, and
sweet. Falling on the planks, it ran off into an
improvised basin of rough stones, the overflow
forming a tiny brook, that ran down the Steep-
264 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
street gutters, cleansing them from the filth of
Pfaff was slow and deliberate in his prepara-
tions to suppress the hated water, and his
manner of treating his elusive enemy was
After gaining the top of the street, he stood
with ponderous gravity, balancing himself by the
side of the fence, gloating over his rare oppor-
tunity for revenge. At last he felt that he was
in a position to crush this hated dispenser of
"No bishness here," he said, looking savagely
at the pipe. "Spoilsh my trade Inger the peo-
ple. No bishness here ! "
The spirituous energy that he had felt, when
first he started for the fountain, was somewhat
abated. He began to feel sleepy, and doubtless
would have lain down by the fence for a nap,
had not his cherished purpose roused him to
action. Drawing the wooden plugs from his
pocket, he put the hammer on the ground, as
if it were made of glass, — then hunted in his
pockets for it, wondered where it was, stepped
on it, and, with an air of great wisdom, picked
it up again, and was ready for the attack.
Advancing with dignity and care, he knelt on
the plank flooring, oblivious of the water that
PFAFF'S PICNIC. 265
was wetting his knees. Getting in the proper
position, he attempted to force one of the plugs
into the open mouth of the pipe. For an in-
stant it stopped the stream, and he removed
his hand and raised the hammer to strike a
heavy blow, when the gathered force blew the
plug high in the air, and the fountain played
on as before. The hammer fell on the top of
the pipe, splashing the water full in the face
of the vengeful rumseller. Still on his knees,
he hunted for the other plug, and, after a long
search, discovered it. With extra care, he placed
it as before, and again raised the hammer, and
the plug leaped into the air as before.
Pfaif was provoked. His plan for bursting the
pipe had failed. He grew angry and threw the
hammer away. A man of his inexorable perti-
nacity, even though drunk, would not give up a
scheme unless forced to. So he looked around
for something else with which to wreak his
spite upon the spouting well. Far and near
he hunted, picking up stones, and rejecting
them, as unfit for his purpose, and growing
drunker every minute.
At last he found a short piece of board, and,
clasping it firmly, tottered back to the point of
attack. Just how to use the board puzzled him.
At first he placed it against the pipe, and strove
266 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
to bend it, and perhaps break it off. Then he
carefully put it down upon the top of the pipe,
deflecting the stream from its perpendicular, and
causing it to spout out from under the board
at an angle. As the covering was so slanted
that the stream was turned away from him, he
imagined that he had succeeded in stopping it,
and, in the excess of his zeal and joy, vowed
to stay there all night and tire the thing out.
For several minutes he held the board in that
position, then he began to grow weary. The night
breeze made him shiver. In his wet clothes,
unused, as he was, to any sort of exposure,
there was danger that he would catch cold.
His arms also ached, from the effort required to
hold the board.
His fertile brain finally hit upon an expedient
by which the subjugation of his enemy could
be accomplished, and, at the same time, his own
comfort be secured. He would sit on the board.
Carefully turning round, at the same time hold-
ing his improvised seat in its place, he gently
lowered himself to it. The feat was almost ac-
complished, when one of those unaccountable
lurches, by which drunken men are apt to upset
their best-laid plans, overcame him. He lurched,
the board slipped off on the further side of the
pipe, and, losing his balance, he sat squarely
PFAFF'S PICNIC. 267
down, with his back against the pipe, closer
than was comfortable, for, so near did he come
to sitting on the pipe, that the round iron arm
forced its cold eighteen inches of length inside
of his short coat and vest, and now was playing
away in the back of his neck, as untamed and
free as ever.
With a gurgling cry, the water-logged rum^
seller attempted to break away, but the firm
iron held him fast. His coat and vest, most
unfortunately for his comfort, were of first-class
material. Both were buttoned, and, no matter
how much he tugged and pulled, he was held
tight. Although the water was rapidly sobering
•him, it was also bringing on a terrible chill.
With all his might he struggled, trying to tear
himself away from the ceaseless shower-bath.
At first he was either too proud or too much
befogged to call for assistance, but as he began
to realize his desperate condition, he raised a
husky, wavering cry.
Boisterous Steep Street, accustomed to the
most unearthly sounds from throats of brass,
would never note that thick, choking wail. Per-
haps the fact that he had caused so many
helpless ones to cry for aid, and had shown no
pity, would now, in some judicial way, hinder
his own rescue. Not that Pfaff entertained any
26S HIS OPPORTUNITY,
such thoughts.. He was simply grovelling in his
fears, and lifting up his pitiful voice, hoping
some one would come to his relief.
As we have said, Chamberlain was a sound
sleeper. The noise of the street had not, during
the whole night, disturbed him; but now, as
morning was drawing near, he stirred and be-
came wakeful. First, he heard the shrill voice
of a barn-yard fowl, far over the hills, then a
faint, quavering cry that sounded human. In
his drowsy state, the two sounds were confusedly
mingled. That they actually meant any thing,
he did not realize. One was to him as mean-
ingless as the other. Both came from the misty
land of dreams, where the strangest occurrences
awaken only calm surprise in the mind of the
" Help ! help ! " came the faint voice. With
the most dispassionate interest. Chamberlain wove
this cry into his morning dreams, growing little
by little more conscious, till at length he began
to think that something was the matter. Sud-
denly rousing himself, he sat up and listened.
The quavering wail that he now heard made
him leap to the floor and throw up the window.
He naturally looked toward the fountain, and in
the moonlight saw a figure bound to the planks,
but writhing and calling piteously.
PFAFF'S PICNIC. 26g
Hastily donning his clothes, he ran down-
stairs and soon stood by the dripping man.
He disengaged him from the pipe, and drew
him from the steady-flowing water. From head
to foot the rum-seller was soaking wet. As soon
as fairly released, he rolled over in a faint, a
chill, or something * similar, straightening out as
stiff as a board. Realizing the preciousness of
time, if the man was to be brought out of it,
Chamberlain put forth all of his strength, and,
lifting him, bore him the short distance between
the fountain and his boarding-place. The Ger-
man was a heavy man, and the feat was
no small one, but it was successfully accom-
plished. Chamberlain, panting with the violence
of his exertions, stood in the diminutive entry,
and, calling to his landlady, wakened the house-
"I can*t have him here," said Mrs. Bowman,
when she learned who it was. "He has done
harm enough to me and mine, without my
"You have no objection to my putting him
n my room till this faint is over ? " asked
"Yes, I have."
"Mrs. Bowman," said Chamberlain, sternly, "a
few minutes* delay will cause the death of this
270 mS OPPORTUNITY.
man. Are you prepared to assume this respon-
sibility ? "
The rigid form was laid on th^* bed, the soak-
ing clothes were removed, and warm blankets
were wrapped around the cold figure. It seemed
impossible for warmth ever to return to the
chilled and livid body. A doctor had arrived an<l
was active in his directions for his resuscitation.
At length the brisk rubbings, the ceaseless
efforts, were rewarded. Pfaff opened his eyes
and uttered a groan. Chamberlain, in his anxious
thankfulness, could have cried for joy.
"Now I s*pose he can go?" said Mrs. Bowman.
The physician turned to her, a rebuke in his
"Has the man no money?" he said.
" Money ! yes ! " was the half-hysterical reply.
" He is rich, but he could n't stay here if he
was king. He is a murderer ! He killed my
husband by selling him rum. I begged him to
stop, and he laughed at me. My nephew is in
jail to-day because he sold him liquor and got
him crazy drunk, and he did what he never
would have done in his sober senses. No ! I
say he shall not stay under this roof, — not if
he were dying ! "
Pfaff opened his eyes and looked at the
frantic woman, then shivered and turned away.
PFAFF'S PICNIC. 27]
"I don't blame her," said the doctor. "Now
that I recognize him, I see that it is the rum-
seller down below. I don't blame the woman
for hating the sight of him."
"But can he be moved.?" asked Chamberlain.
"Certainly not. Her hysterics will wear them-
selves out in a few minutes, and then she will
have to listen to reason. But, if I am any
judge, this man will be in a high fever before
the day cnd«."
272 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
fHAMBERLAIN'S love of adventure would not
long permit him to leave unexplored a place
so interesting as the rear yard of the file-works.
Often since he had "shadowed" Tarn as far as
the hidden gate, had he planned to visit the
enclosure some night and find out for himself all
it contained. He determined, also, to learn for
what purpose some of the buildings in that
section of the works were used. The workmen
did not seem to know, for he had questioned
them. That there was something secret going
on in them he was sure ; but in what line, he
could not decide; nor could he formulate the
vague suspicions that the words of the little
Scotchman had sown in his mind. To tell the
truth, he was sorely puzzled by the conduct of
the agent, who appeared so courteous and kindly.
Of late he had sought Chamberlain when it
would not be noticed by the workmen, and had
THE NIGHT GANG, 2/3
impressed him with his desire to see the mill
folk raised to a higher level. So earnest did he
seem, that when with him, Chamberlain believed
him to be sincere; but when alone, he found the
old doubts asserting themselves, and the fragmen
tary sentences of Tam, with the plainly uttered
opinions of the laborers, came back in full force
and shook his confidence.
After the store had been gutted, he had gone
to Lamson and had received his sympathy. In
deed, the agent expressed strong indignation,
and yet appeared so hopeless of finding out who
did it, that Chamberlain even in his presence
began to doubt his honesty. Lamson declared
that Pfaff was at the bottom of the outrage;
but in the same breath said the rascal was so
wily that a skilled detective would be baffled by
his way "of working. Chamberlain made little or
no reply to the queries of the agent, as to what
he intended to do with the store, and refused
to accept the kind offer to relieve him of the
The care of Pfaff, who was in a high fever
at Chamberlain's lodgmgs, made it impossible for
him to visit the mill yard as soon as he had
planned. Forced to occupy a lounge, on the
lower floor of his lodging-house, while the
delirious rum-seller occupied his bed, he, how-
274 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
ever, took the first opportunity to steal away to
reconnoiter. On this occasion he started at nine
in the evening and made his way boldly through
the mill village, answering the hails of fellow-
workmen, but refusing to stop for friendly converse.
Passing around the ample yard that enclosed the
front buildings, he soon came to the footpath
where first he had become acquainted with Tarn.
Having carefully taken bearings on his last visit,
he was able to go straight to the small gate, and
raising it, to enter the forbidden enclosure. Once
vithin, he carefully let the board down into its
place, and stood looking about him. The yard,
yith its heaps of debris, its huge boilers, its
nisshapen shadows, had a weird air that greatly
nhanced the romance of the scene. Now that
'e was fairly within it, Chamberlain somehow
-'^^st his imaginative expectations, and suddenly
I Ax. that he might after all spend his time in a
';uitless quest. He argued to himself that things
j»owadays happen as they should, running in the
.everyday, practical ruts, and never turning aside
/or the delicious adventures of which one reads.
.^ven as he entertained these thoughts, so dis-
couraging to the adventurer's cause, he heard a
'juick step on the footpath, and then some one
fumbled for the gate-board. Noiselessly Cham-
berlain moved aside, 2.nd concealing himself be-
THE NIGHT GANG. 2/5
hind a hogshead, awaited the new comer. A
moment later a figure passed through the narrow
gatev/ay and strode across the yard. Even in
the dim light he recognized Sam Putnam. In
great surprise, Chamberlain followed at a distance,
feeling that he was on the verge of a discovery.
Sam skirted one of the buildings, crossed the
yard, and stopped in front of a shed, upon the
door of which he knocked.
"Enter," said a voice that was easily recog-
nized as Tam's.
" Well, old man, how goes it ? " asked Sam,
opening the door and disappearing.
" All reet. So you have n't forgotten Tarn ?
Well, you are a gude lad, Sam, and the Loord
will one day bless you for your kindness to a
poor, daft body like mysel'."
" I should be a pretty mean chap if I did n't
stick to an old chum," answered Sam, heartily.
" I don't forget the good turns you did me
years ago, Tam ; they are all down in my
" Does Lamson never wish to have me removed
noo?" was the anxious query.
"He hasn't said a word about it for months,"
replied Sam. "I told him that when you went,
"Ye were aye generous. A man with so gude
276 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
a heart as you, Sam Putnam, should not rest
till he had given it to the Loord."
Chamberlain expected some jeering reply, foi
he knew of Sam as one who made fun of re-
ligion unsparingly, and whose jokes were repeated
from one end of the works to the other. He
was therefore astounded to hear him say, —
" I would if I . could, Tam ; but I am too
deeply involved in certain affairs to make it
possible. No man can serve the Lord and the
devil at the same time, — that is, no man but
"He, will reap his reward; let us not trouble
about him. The question concerns you now.
Do you believe on the Loord Jesus Christ 1 "
"I fear I do," was the reply, after a long
"Well, then, you never will have peace till
you surrender. And mark me, you must give
up everything that stands between yourself and
Sam made no answer. Tam continued, —
"I do not wish to boast, but did I not give
up everything ? "
"And such peace as I now possess the world
can never bestow. I might have been rich and
well looking, but for the Loord's sake I surren-
THE NIGHT GANG. 2/7
dered it all, and lonely though I be, he daily
repays me a hundred fold."
" I believe it," was the warm reply. ** I be-
lieve it, and would willingly change with you to
possess that peace."
" Let us pray over it," said the Scotchman.
One of the strange, heartfelt prayers that
Chamberlain had before heard from the same
lips now followed. It seemed to bring him near
to the throne of grace, and he could hardly
suppress the amen that rose to his lips as the
prayer was ended.
"I must go and look after the polish-makers,
but I wish I was out of it," said Sam, at
" Poor lad, I *m sorry for you. I wish you
were as well out of the rascally business as I
am. I will pray for you the night."
The visitor left the hut, and with his easy
stride went further into the labyrinth of build-
ings and yards. Chamberlain following as closely
at his heels as he dared. Turning first to the
right and then to the left, among heaps of cast-
ings, passing around many obstructions, they went
till he fairly lost his way. Finally, Sam stopped
before the rear door of one of the lofty stone
buildings that were now closed as not necessary
for the work, and were supposed to be store
278 mS OPPORTUNITY.
houses. A peculiar double rap, accompanied by
a low whistle, caused the door to be opened,
and the giant passed from view. At the open-
ing of the door. Chamberlain caught a glimpse
of a well-lighted room, in which about a dozen
men were working. Just what they were doing,
he was unable to discover in the brief interval
between the opening and closing of the door.
For some minutes he stood :n concealment,
waiting for Sam to reappear, but in this was
disappointed. Advancing very cautiously he tried
the door through which he had disappeared, but
it was firmly fastened. Up and down the length
of the building he passed, looking for windows
that should enable him to catch a glimpse of
the life within, but in vain. Baffled and puzzled,
it seemed almost a freak of the imagination, for
he could not hear any noise of tools, nor the
least conversation. By placing his ear close to
the wall of the building, however, he could de-
tect a faint throb, like the beating of his own
heart. This, he decided, must come from a small
engine; yet no sign of escape-pipe or exhaust
was to be seen.
At last, grown bold by his freedom from dan
ger, he decided to make use of the double rap
and whistle that Sam gave, and take the
risk. It was a fool-hardy thing to do, but a
THE NIGHT GANG. 279
knowledge of Sam's true character kept him
from fear >f bodily harm. Stepping up to the
door, he raised his hand to give the pass rap,
when it was caught away, and a voice whis-
"George Chamberlain, are you daft?"
Taming with a start, he stood face to face
"Come awa', man, till I talk with you,*' said
the little Scotchman.
Astonished by the sudden appearance of the
little Scotchman, Chamberlain followed him in
silence. No word did either speak till they were
safe in the tiny shed. Then Tam said, —
"Master George, what in the world were you
about.? Would you put yourself in peril?"
" Why do you call me * Master George '? " asked
"Are you not George Chamberlain?"
"I am his son."
With a sudden, frightened shyness, Tam arose
from his seat as if to flee.
"I thought you were Master George," he said,
" Do not go, Tam. You were my father's
friend, can you not be mine ? ^ My father, George
Chamberlain, is dead."
"Poor lad," said Tam, forgetting his fear; "I
280 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
remember, now, to have heard of the death of
your father ; but I 'm no' quite right in my mind,
and I forget much that passes. When I saw
you, I thought that you were he. You favor him
Tam sat fingering the lapel of his coat, man-
ifestly uneasy. Chamberlain watched him, won-
dering how he could gain his confidence, and
learn something of the clandestine work of the
night gang that were in the stone building. He
saw that the little Scotchman distrusted him»
and had half a mind to escape.
"Tam, things are going wrong here in the
works. Lamson is playing a shrewd game, by
which he makes money which should be turned
into the hands of the company. Now what is
it?" he said suddenly.
The little Scotchman hesitated, and looked long-
ingly at the door.
"I daur not tell," was the muttered reply.
" But is n't it right that I should know } Am
I not wronged by your silence? I am in the
mill, daily; I know that something is brewing
You were my father's friend ; can you not be
mine ? "
" Have you ever seen the crucibles ? ** asked
THE NIGHT GANG, 28 1
"Well, you ken that they are made of black
lead? After a few heats they become spoiled and
are cast aside. You have seen the broken ones
in the yard, mayhap ? "
"I have," replied Chamberlain.
** It was always the • custom to throw them
away, after they had served their purpose, as
unfit for further use. Lam son, however, heard
of a scheme that was employed in other mills
for converting them into stove-polish; so he fitted
up a room in the old stone mill, and put a man
at work there nights, grinding them to powder.
Pretty soon he had another man, then another,
till he now has twenty men at work there."
"I should think it would be found out,"
"Who is there to find it out .^ These twenty
men are oath-bound. They are supposed to be
at the regular furnace-work all night. Instead,
they only put in about one-third of the time for
the company and the rest for Lamson. They
get the highest wages, and far from wishing to
divulge the secret, they guard it with jealous
care. I don't know what they would have done,
had you knocked as you thought of doing."
"Is this polish widely sold?"
"Have you never heard of the Three X
Polish ? "
^SZ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"I have seen it advertised."
"Well, that is it. All over the country it ia
•old, and the profits are very large. Lamson is
1 wealthy man."
" How did you happen to know all this 1 "
" It 's a weary tale. I worked in the mill, and
Lamson got his eye on me as a mon who
could be trusted. One day he tried by flattering
promises, to get me go to work at it. I always
doubted him, and when I found that it was to be
kept secret, I charged him with fraud to Robert
Flint, his employer. Oh, mon ! How angered
he was ! I thought he would strike me. He
walked up and down his office, and looked as
ugly as the Deil himself. He told me that he
would be the ruin of me if I did not join with
him, and I, foolish man that I was, dared him
"Did he ever seek to harm you?"
"He did that, and accomplished it, too. After
he divulged the secret, I tried, as I told him
I should, to get the ear of Robert Flint and
to tell him of the whole affair, but found it im
possible. During work-hours, I was kept out of
the office, and all letters that were sent to Flint
were first opened by Lamson, and wherever I
went I was dogged. At length he had his re-
THE NIGHT GANG. 283
venge. Do ye note the scars on my face? on
my hands ? They are the marks o ' Lamson's
With a shiver, Chamberlain looked at the face
so scarred and seamed, from which burned the
bright eyes with an almost unearthly light.
"Lamson did it.?" said he in amazement.
"Aye, he did it. He was permitted to do it.
I bear him no ill will. He can harm me no
more, for the Loord has raised up friends for me."
"Talking to yourself, Tam.?" said a deep
voice, and Sam Putnam put his head into the
little room. On seeing Chamberlain he came in
with a curious look in his deep-set eyes.
"What is this boy doing here.?" he said.
"This lad.? Oh, he is George Chamberlain's
son. I dinna ken what he wants here, except
'*t is to talk with me."
"I suppose you know, young feller, that no
one is aDowed in this yard after nightfall ? '
'Then what are you doing here?" replied
"That is none of your business."
"I tal you it is his business. He is George
Chamberlain's son," asserted Tarn.
"Are you?' was the answer, with a piercing
284 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
**Yes, I am," said Chamberlain.
Sam meditated for a few seconds. It was
evident that at first he had thought of him as
merely a common workman, who, through love
cf adventure, or through mere curiosity, had
scaled the fence to see Tam ; but now he saw
his mistake. Manifestly, the news of Chamber
Iain's relationship to the chief owner of the
works made him ill at ease.
"Are you at work here for the purpose of
spying on the men.?" he asked with a bitter
ring in his voice.
"Putnam," said Chamberlain, "I came here to
learn the business. My being in the yard to-
night is to discover what kind of work is going
on at night, when the villagers believe that the
men are at the smelting furnaces."
"That is something you had better not find
out. Let me warn you, it is dangerous."
"I have told him all. It is right that he
should know. I am not oath-bound," said Tam.
Sam knit his brows, perplexed and angry.
"There is another object in my being here in
the factory," continued Chamberlain, "and that
is to see if I cannot do some good. The ter-
rible state that rum has brought about on
Steep Street is as plain to you as to me.
There is a fearful daily misery, that calls to
THE NIGHT GANG. 285
heaven for help. It is my honest belief that
there are hearts on the street, that even now
the Holy Spirit is striving with. It is my wish
to point some of those souls to the Way."
Sam listened as if for life.
"Do you honestly believe that the story of
the Cross is true, — that Jesus Christ was the
Son of God.^" he asked.
" I am sure of it. The manner in which he
has answered my prayers, and the sweet peace
that has filled my soul, assure me of it. There
is room for no mistake. The very dignity of
truth is in the story."
"You are right lad! You arc right," said
Tam. "Those who come to the Loord with
earnest hearts do not doubt. Their lives are
filled so full of His presence that that there is
no chance for it. They know His voice and He
calleth them by name."
"Why did he not keep Temple from falling.?"
"That is more than I can tell. I believe that
John Temple will yet be saved. I know he
was in earnest. Perhaps it was that the North
Church might have a lesson."
"Mighty little they have profited by it,"
sneered Sam, the hard tone coming back.
"I am not so sure of that. The church has
286 lijS OPPORTUNITY.
voted to banish all wine containing alcohol from
the communion table. I believe that Mr. Snow is
fervently praying for the Steep-street people, and I
also believe that his prayers will yet be answered."
Sam was struggling with a deep conviction of
sin. There could be no doubt of it. His whole
bearing showed it. Chamberlain prayed in his
heart that the Spirit of Truth might triumph.
As he glanced at Tam he saw his lips move
and felt that he also prayed. Just then the
clock struck eleven.
"We, must get out of this. The men have
their recess in a little while, and it won't do
for you to be seen. If Lamson heard of it he
would get even with me in some way," said Sam.
"You will not harm the lad, Sam?" said
Tam, a ring of anxiety in his voice.
"No, of course not. His pious talk has made
Following the giant. Chamberlain passed through
the length of the yard, through the secret gate,
and stood with him on the narrow foot-path.
"I should like to ask you a question," said
Sam, as they were about to part. "Do you
believe that a man whose whole life had been
steeped in rioting and sin, who had done scores
of things that he could never undo, who loved
liquor more than any thing else in the world^
THE NIGHT GANG. 287
— do you believe that such a man could receive
what you Christians call a new heart?"
•*The Lord said, 'Whosoever will, let him
come.' That means just such a man as you
describe, as well as any other. Repent and be-
lieve, ask for forgiveness, and turn from sin, and
help is certain.
"I have believed ever since my wife died,
years ago, but the turning from sin was what
troubled me. I can't bear to expose others."
"A man cannot serve the Lord and the devil
at the same time," said Chamberlain.
" Well, good- night. I think that you mean
what you say, anyhow."
"Good-night, and God bless you," was the re-
ply, and they parted.
Chamberlain had gone but a little way, when
he heard his name called, and Sam came hur-
rying after him.
"There is one thing I forgot to say. You
have made a discovery to-night that will change
things here without doubt. I am glad of it,
but I want it distinctly understood that if any
penalty falls on the night gang, it falls on me
as well. And, another thing, the little bit that
I have talked about religion, tc -night, was not
to dodge any of my misdoings. I am willing tc
face the music. Good-night."
flHOSE who are familiar with manufactories,
notice that the afternoon jar and roar of
machinery has a deeper, heavier sound than in
the morning. Possibly the cogs, that shoulder one
another in ceaseless rotation, the whirring pul-
leys, the sweeping belts, weary with the day's
labor, take this means of expressing a wish for
relaxation. Whether or not this be true, it is
certain that the men grow tired, — that their
steps are less elastic, and their work moves more
slowly. About four o'clock comes the maximum
of this afternoon lull, which, as soon as it is
appreciated, is followed by a "spurt" that carries
things along till six o'clock brings relief. It
was in the midst of this portion of the work-
ing-day that Sam Putnam stepped into the
outer office, and knocked at the door of Lam-
son's private room.
TIVO PENITENTS. 289
"What is it?" was the curt query from
"Can I see you for a few minutes?"
"Who is it?"
"I'm busy. Can't you come again?"
"Yes," was the reply.
So astonished was the agent at the. quiet
answer, that he pushed open the door and
looked, a trifle anxiously, at his caller, who was
already turning to depart.
"Anything wrong?" he asked.
" I guess not ; but any time that you are at
liberty I have several things of some importance
to tell you."
"Come in now," said Lamson.
Putnam entered and seated himself, waiting
for the other to open the conversation.
" Well ? " remarked the agent, impatiently.
"I wished to tell you that I am about to
enter the service of another master."
"Who?" asked Lamson, in amazement.
"The Lord Jes^is Christ," replied Sam, rever-
The agent flushed scarlet, then turned white,
and seemed, for the moment, completely con-
" You astonished me, Sam ; I did n't know
290 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
you cared for such things. You frightened me,
too. Then it won't be necessary for you to
leave me. You know I couldn't stand that,"
he said, finally.
**I am not sure of that. My profession is to
be an honest one."
"Undoubtedly. You have my heartiest sym-
pathy. It is a wise and commendable step.
How is that last file-stock } There has been
complaint that it is flawy," replied Lamson, at-
tempting to turn the subject.
"For some weeks I have thought of this, and
am now determined to carry it through. My
belief in the saving power of the blood of
Christ is genuine. It can save me, and has
done so. It can save you," said Sam, keeping
to the point with quiet calmness.
"Are you trying to preach to me, Sam.^
You forget that I am a member of the
"I remember it, but being a church-member
is not being a Christian. That you know as well
as I. Do you believe that you are saved from
your sins 1 "
"Aren't you rather too young a convert to
be questioning me.? How long have you been
in the service of this Master?" a^ked tlic
lawyer, with a forced smile.
TIVO PENTTENTS. 29 1
"And what has become of the polish-works?"
asked Lamson, involuntarily acknowledging that
Sam could not consistently continue to defraud
"I dismissed all the men Saturday night."
The agent's face became livid with rage."
"How dare you.^" he said, leaping to his
feet. "What right have you to discharge any
men here.^ Why, there are scores of orders
waiting to be filled ! "
"I hired the men, and therefore I could dis-
charge them. You recognize the fact that I
cannot do that work any more, and I am glad
of it. I would give any thing if I had never
consented to it."
" You remember your oath ! "
" I do, but it is my belief that all of this
will be found out before long, even if I
hold my tongue, as I shall under the circum^
The agent sat for some minutes in deep
thought. Resting his face on his hand, he ap-
peared to study the opposite wall, but when
unobserved he was slyly examining Sam's face.
The shallowest physiognomist would have as-
serted, with confidence, that the giant was in
earnest. His open face was not a mask behind
292 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
which lurked any kind of guile. On the con-
trary, it bore the impress of truth, honesty, and
determination. Lamson, with keen eyes, saw all
this, and wondered how he should again get the
upper hand of this most valuable man. He had
little time to decide, for Sam was even then
waiting for him to speak.
" Did it ever occur to you that I might pos-
sess a conscience } " enquired the agent.
"I suppose every one has something of the
kind," replied the other.
"Well, I most certainly have one, and, Sam,
this crucible business has troubled me a great
deal. I believe from the first a curse hung
over it. There has been a quantity of polish
sold, but almost no money has come from it.
We sell at so small a profit that the bad debts
eat up every thing. I am sick of the whole
affair, and am glad you dismissed the men. I
shall inform our New York agents that after
this they must get some other firm to manu-
facture for them.'*
" You really mean to give it up ? " asked
Sam, in surprise.
"I do. It was a temptation to me at first,
and I yielded, which was very wrong, but now
that you have started to do right, I am going
to bear you company. Only, one thing for the
TfFO PENITENTS, 293
sake of my mother, this must be kept a pro.
Sam, with genuine fervor, promised that he
would breathe no word of the affair. To tell the
truth, he had gone into the office with a pra3'cr
on his lips that his former partner in guilt might
be influenced to turn away from his sin. And now
it appeared as if the prayer was answered.
Accustomed, as he was, to manipulating all
kinds of men, Lamson perceived that he had
again gained Sam's confidence, and it occurred
that here was a good opportunity to learn more
of his plans. Putnam, when feeling well, was
apt to be off his guard, and, on matters of
minor importance, could be easily drained of
" Where are you going Sundays ? It won't
do for you to spend them in the engine-house,
"I shall go to Chamberlain's mission, I ex-
pect," was the reply.
"Chamberlain's?" repeated his listener, having
heard nothing definite of the scheme.
"Yes," was the reply.
"That is a grand idea of his, but it will
"Only for the settees, lamp, desk, and books/'
294 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
" Ah ! " thought the agent, " Chamberlain is
going to fix his store over into a mission-
chapel. That was why he refused to throw up
the lease.'* Aloud he said, —
"Young Chamberlain is a fine fellow. I like
him better the more I see of him. His efforts
at doing good are most commendable. I wish I
could assist him."
"Do you mean that.?*' enquired Sam.
" Then give us a ten-dollar bill to get some
mottoes for the walls," said Sam.
With a look in his steely eyes that boded
ill, Lamson wrote a check for the amount, and
Sam went off highly delighted. As for Lamson,
he locked the door and indulged in a long,
silent temper-fit, from which he came out pale,
smiling as ever, and several degrees more crafty
The confession that Sam had made to Lam-
son was hard, yet it was nothing compared
with one he was already preparing to make.
For so many years the leader of the Tigers,
and so thoroughly identifi.ed with them in their
various escapades, he knew that only a manly
confession of faith could give the impression he
was anxious to give, — could keep out the sus-
picion that he had been * bought up' by the
TPrO PENITENTS. 295
ctiurch in the upper town. With great anxiety
he waited for the next meeting of the engine-
company, determined fully to state his new
faith, and trust in the Lord to impress the
honesty of his repentance upon the hearts of
his comrades. At the hour of gathering he was
on hand, and, as usual, was at once surrounded
by a circle of admirers.
"Pass the elixyer to the foreman," suggested
one, and the decanter was in an instant prof-
fered to him.
**No, not any for me," he said.
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself, to ask the
president of our 'reform club' to drink, after he
has been laboring so many years to *put down
liquor'.?" shouted a jolly voice, and, at the re-
membrance of Parson Snow's mistake, there was
a general shout.
" Take a hand at our table } " pressed a
couple of the younger men, who were playing
How hard it was to break in on all this real
heartiness, and do as he had resolved. No man
there suspected the change that had come over
him. He almost wished that they were able at
that moment to see into his heart and recog-
nize the difference there. The liquor, the pro-
fanity, were so loathsome to him now; yet the
296 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
hearty admiration of the men, and their friend-
liness, was more than ever grateful.
** You fellers shut up," said Josselyn, with a
shake of his fist at the card-players, in simu-
lated wrath. "What we all want,' and what we
intend to have, is a yarn, — one of Sam's
stories. Such as no one else can tell. Hey,
*' That's the talk; a yarn! a story."
"Will you listen to any story that I may read
" Yes, yes ; go ahead ! The first man that in-
terrupts will be fired down stairs."
Aware that this promise would be rigidly kept,
with a prayer for guidance, Sam drew a Testa-
ment from his pocket, and with some difficulty
found a certain chapter, and began to read.
He had selected the story of the Crucifixion, and
and as he read, the silence in the room grew
till hardly a sound could be heard but the
smooth bass of the reader. Slowly, reverently,
distinctly, the foreman read, and the simple elo-
quence of the story held them all spell-bo-md.
When it was finished, a little sigh ran round
the room, and the rough faces, for the moment
softened, again assumed their rugged lines. An
old man, a stranger in the engine-room, although
one of the puddlers, said in a subdued tone, —
riVO PENITENTS. 297
*'Eh, mon, but that is a gude tale. Read it
There was no demurring on the part of th€
audience, and Sam, with a new realization of the
power of the Word, again read the story. The
tender pathos, the wonderful love of the Saviour,
and the bitter agony on Calvary, so vividly im-
pressed itself upon his mind that he could with
difficulty command his voice; nor was he alone
in his agitation. The hardened file-workers were
also affected, and tears stood in the eyes of men
whose whole lives had been spent in reckless sin.
" Boys," said Sam, breaking the silence that
followed, "you asked me tell you a story; I have
told many during the years we have trained to-
gether. You have seemed to enjoy them, and I
am sure I have. Of them all, this one has been
the best to me ; this is true. I have been unmind-
ful of it long enough, God knows; but that shall
no longer be said of me. I believe that Jesus
Christ died for me, as this book says. His blood
cleansed me from sin. He is my friend, and
from this time forth I am going to do all I can
tJ live as He tells us to live."
"How is that?" was the inquiry from younger
"Just this way: To live without drinking and
swearing; to keep the Sabbath; to read the Bible,
293 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
and pray ; to follow His commands ; and to try
and bring other men to him. And O, how I
wish you all might know this Saviour ! We have
been comrades in sin for so long, why can't we
be in holiness ? I tell you, boys, there is no
slip-up ' to this matter. It is all down in black
md white. The Bible says, * For God so loved
the world that he gave his only beloved Son,
that whosoever believeth in him might not perish,
but have everlasting life.* That whosoever was
what caught me ; that did the business. I knew
I was mustered in when I read that. When we
have scoffed at religion, and made the most fun
of it, at the bottom of our hearts there was a
feeling that, after all, there might be something
in it. We know that this life does not end all.
We know, when we are drunkards, and swearers,
and wicked, that we shall have to pay for it
sometime. Now, why not act on the square, and
drop all this folly, and get a new start } The
doors are wide open to-night. I wish some of
you fellers would start along with me, and own
the best Friend man ever had."
When he had finished, there was a long silence
in the room. His story had made a deep im-
pression upon the men, but there were one or
two who hardened their hearts against any thing
religious ; among them was Josselyn. As <«
riVO PENITENTS. 299
glanced about at the faces, tear-stained and soft*
ened, he flushed with anger, and said, —
" That 's a mighty interestin' story, and you
told it well ; but it don't wash with me. Do
you s'pose I am fool enough to believe that a
man who loves rum as well as you do, is going
to give up drinking it for nothing? I ain't for-
gotten how five years ago Bert Thompson, the
biggest drunkard in the works, turned suddenly
sober and started a big revival. I was one of
his converts, and believed that he was genuine;
but three weeks later he was drunker than ever,
and boasting of the good clothes and the money
the *up-town folks' had give him. That game
is too old. Fool the church folks all you please,
but don't try it on us."
This speech had its effect, and the faces that
had been softened by better feeling grew hard again.
"You are the first man, friend or enemy, that
ever accused me of playing a double game in
any thing," said Putnam.
"I s'pose there is a first time for every thing,"
was the sneering reply.
With a grave dignity, the giant rose to de-
part, aware that no argument would avail to set
his action in its true light. Only a consistent
Christian life could impress upon this company
the real honesty of the views he had expressed.
300 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
He stepped down from the platform, and Josselyn
rose and came forward to meet him.
*' You are a turn-coat and a traitor. Take
that ! " he said, slapping him in the face with
his open hand.
The men in amazement, almost in horror,
that one should dare lay hands on so dan-
gerous a man as Sam had proved himself to
be when roused, stood gazing at him. They ex-
pected to see the assailant fall under the sud«
den and terrible "left-hander" that had almost
killed the bully of the next village; but Putnam
stood calm, motionless, looking straight into the
flaming eyes of the other.
"Tim," he said, and his voice held a cadence
of such sweetness that the tears started to many
eyes. "Tim, there was a time when that blow
would have cost you much, but that is all past,
— God bless you ! "
They stood aside and let him pass, then sat
down again to their cards and their drinking.
Josselyn seated himself apart and looked gloomily
out of the window. When asked to play, he
answered with a vigorous oath. Soon he got up
and went out.
" I '11 bet," said one of the elder grinders, who
had been deeply affected by the story, — "I'll bet
that Josselyn will be the next to go as Sam has."
AN ACCIDENT. 30«
BY the foot of Steep Street ran the river.
Through the night and whenever the mills
were "shut down/' it was full from bank to
bank ; but as soon as the gates of the canal
were opened above the dam, most of the water
was drawn away, and the great boulder-strewn
river-bed lay open to the sight of all. This was
the grand play-ground for such children as were
not in the mill. The little pools of water
among the slippery rocks held many a prisoned
pickerel and perch, and when these more valu-
able of the finny tribe were absent, the place
abounded in eels, from three to six inches long,
the catching of which afforded unending sport.
Many a youngster spent all day trying to cap-
ture the slippery squirmers, handling dozens,
Among those who sometimes came that way
302 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
and invariably stopped to watch the lively sport
in the river-bed, was Miriam Whitney. Driving
as closely as was possible, she enjoyed their
successes and lamented their failures, and soon
came to have quite a knowledge of the little
folks of the street. Among them all, one in
particular attracted her. He was a cripple, poorly
dressed, and sadly misshapen, one limb being
shorter than the other. In spite of this disad-
vantage, he looked the most alert and intelligent
of the party. His big black eyes saw all that
was to be seen, and his stick descended unerr-
ingly upon the frantic fish that fled for life
down the shallow rivulets to the pools below.
The success that attended his efforts made some
of his companions jealous, and as a result, those
who dared bullied him as often as possible.
Yet he had a friend that any of them would
gladly have secured, in the person of the lady-
watcher on the further bank.
One morning she had become so interested,
that she descended from her phaeton and came
almost to the water's edge, just below the fish-
hunting ground, and stood watching the actors.
As usual, the big brown head of her favorite
Bvas bobbing in the thick of the fray, and his
iCft hand clutched a fine string of fish. Sud-
denly a sturdy, forbidding youngster caught the
AN ACCIDENT. 303
fish from his hand and started on a run for the
opposite bank, the owner close at his heels.
The thief would probably have escaped with the
booty, had he not met an unforseen obstacle.
A tall young lady stood in his path, with such
a look blazing in her eyes, that he stopped in
su.lden fear. That instant of hesitation was just
what the lame boy needed, for springing upon
his enemy, he overthrew him and by a quick
wrench recovered his property.
*'You are a coward!" said Miriam, as the boy
regained his feet, and stood looking defiantly at
"I am no coward, neither. I lickit the school-
mistress, an* I can lick thee!" was the aston-
"Ye cannot lick her, till ye have me!" said
the little cripple, stepping in front of his fair
ally. *'And ye are a coward, all ye daur tackle
is lame folk and lassies."
" Course he 's a coward, he dares not tackle
a lad of his own size ! " yelled the others in
The little ruffian raised his hand as if to
strike, when the cripple with a quick motion
tiipped him up.
"Wi' ye say ought agin' the leddy?" he
asked, standing over him with uplifted arm.
304 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"No," was the surly reply, and the battle was
won. The defeated one stumped off, followed by
the rest, except the lame boy.
"I'd like to tal you my thankfulness. Miss,"
said he gratefully, "yon lad is a sair trial to
me. Will ye not accept the fish.? They are
right gude ! "
"My father is very fond of pickerel, and if
you are willing to take them to my house, the
Whitney Place, I will buy them. By the way
what is your name.?"
"Jamie Bruce, but I dinna* wish to sell them,"
he answered blushing.
But the money was already in his jacket-
pocket, and his friend had gone, with a bright
From this time, Jamie became a proteg6 of
the fair young lady. Whenever she appeared in
the vicinity of the mill settlement, — and most
of the attractive drives in Steelville, had their
beginning in that direction, — he was on hand to
shyly give her welcome. His quaint suggestions
as to desirable places for pleasure excursions,
together with his unique comments on the life
of the mill folks, made him a most entertaining
companion. Miriam had already made up her
mind to speak to her father about the little
fellow, and see if something could not be done
AN ACCIDENT. 305
to secure for him an education, when there
came one of those strange happenings that
sometimes fall even upon the innocent.
A fire had broken out in the "packing-room"
of the file-works, and all Steelville was in a fer-
ment. The up-town engine, a steamer, had
reached the village soon after the first alarm,
and was closely followed by almost the entire
population of that section. The steamer men
were in high spirits at haviiig reached the place
nearly as soon as their rivals, the Tigers, and
were working with might and main, unreeling
hose, coupling, and getting into shape to
The grinding-room hands, led by Swinert and
Gaffney, formed a line of buckets to the canal,
and were doing substantial work. Around on all
sides, surging close to the engines, and blocking
the way, pressed a dense crowd of people with
the characteristic lawlessness of town folk. In
a comparatively open spot on the side hill over-
looking the scene, somewhat removed from the
crowd, stood Miss Whitney and her father.
She was watching every move with the deepest
interest and pointing out one and another of her
juvenile acquaintances, much to the amusement
of her parent.
The engines were now playing in good earnest,
306 ms OPPORTUNITY.
the short "chug-chug," of the steamer vying
with the clatter of the brakes on the hand
engine. The town firemen were working for pay,
the Tigers "for fun," and it was hard to decide
which put forth the greater exertion. On the
leading hose, flat on their faces, where the hot
breath of the flames sent the perspiration roll-
ing down in streams, only to be dried by the
thick, black smoke, were Chamberlain and Sam
Putnam. Thus they lay side by side, holding
the restive, jerking hose, that like a canvas
serpent, writhed and twisted a if determined to
free itself. The foreman of the Tigers had an
object in choosing this position. Considerable
feeling existed between his men and the firemen
of the town. So high had it run at times that
it had stopped little short of pitched battles.
The file-workers complained that the Steamer
men were in the habit of turning their hose on
them and ducking them whenever opportunity
offered, and of course they retaliated. So many
times had these complaints reached Sam, that he
had determined to discover which side was the
aggressor. He therefore stationed himself just
within the threshold of the flame-filled room,
held to the hose and waited.
Presently, from the opposite side, where the
steamer men were in possession of a shattered
AN ACCIDENT. 30;
window, came a sudden burst of water, striking
the wall about a foot above their heads, with a
force which, if it had been expended on them,
would have swept them out of the door. Soon
another dash, then in different places not far
from them came the savage swish and hiss of
the solid water-column. The town firemen were
''feeling for the Tigers," and meant to drown
them out, The foreman's eyes, filled with smoke
though they were, snapped dangerously. Just
then the chief engineer, who was also one of
the selectmen of the town, crawled up beside
him, and in a moment his experienced eye took
in the whole affair.
"It's that miserable Tom Strong," he said to
Putnam, "and tht other fellows back him up in
it. The fire is really under now ; let 's give
him a lesson."
Chamberlain was sent to rouse the tired men
on the brakes to a final effort. A word ex-
plained the situation, and a stream was sent
through the canvas channel that was about as
much as Putnam and the chief engineer could
manage. When the full force was on, the two
men braced in the doorwa}^ turned it point
blank on the window. There was a crash, a
sputtering yell, and the chief said, with intense
satisfaction in his voice, —
308 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"That was a good shot ! Tumbled Tom clear
out of the window! Now, by the time he picks
himself up, he won't have any water to fight
with, for I 've ordered the steamer to stop."
Meanwhile, not far from where Miriam and her
father stood, a little woman in neat, black dress
and white cap, was watching eagerly the sway-
ing mass of men and boys around the engines.
Several times she glanced at the young lady as
if in doubt, and at last advanced, dropped a
quaint, old-country courtesy, and lifting a face
such as some of the gentle, "gude wives" have,
— a face rare, saintly, — said, —
"Lassie, your eyes are young and strong; will
ye tal me is that my Jamie doon by the engine
yon ? You 'd ken him ; he 's the lame laddie."
Miriam looked long and searchingly in the
direction named, but could discover no sign of
"Are you Jamie's mother?" she inquired.
"No*; I'm his grannie, and I'm sair worried
about him this moment. It 's this day week he
started to wark in the mills, 'cause he would na*
have his grannie gang oot to service fonger. It 's
in the part of the mill where he warked that
the fire is.''
•* I do not thmk there is any danger," said
Miriam, soothingly. "All of the hands were out
AN ACCIDENT, 3^9
before the fire was under way. I heard one of
the men say so."
" The Loord grant that it be so ; but I *m
much straightened about the lad. I went doon
and tried to question the man at the engine,
but he bade me gang back oot of peril, that the
lad was all reet."
At this moment there was a sudden move-
ment toward the blackened doorway, about which
the heavy smoke hung like a pall. From the
confused murmur, nothing could be learned but
that a startling discovery had been made. Mr.
Whitney had already left the scene, preferring
to walk home ; and his daughter and the little
Scotchwoman stood alone, anxiously waiting for
information as to the sudden excitement. Soon
the dense throng parted, and Chamberlain, pale
even through the grime of smoke, hatless and
coatless, with a slight, limp form in his arms,
came toward the bridge.
*' Where is the little fellow's home ? " he said.
A score of voices responded in subdued ac-
cents, and led by him the great crowd abandoned
steamer, hose, and every thing, and surged to-
ward Steep Street.
** My heart tells me it' s my lad," said the
old lady, faintly. "I'm very weak like."
Miss Whitney passed her arm around her, and
310 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
and thus they followed slowly the mass of people.
When they came in sight of the wee cottage
back of the tenements, they saw that the throng
had surrounded it. As they neared the place,
a way opened for them, and the whisper went
round : —
** That's the lad's grannie."
On the tiny bed in the bare, little bedroom
lay a still figure. It was indeed her lad!
The little Scotchwoman, with a heart-breaking
cry, leaned over him, took him in her arms, and
rained kisses and tears upon the unconscious
"Oh, my laddie, my laddie!" she mourned;
"would to God that I might have deed for ye I
My pure bairnie! My wee, broken-winged duve;
I ken that yeer better — aye, far better off now.
Yeer with the feyther now, and the mother, and
thy auld grannie is desolate ! Ah ! laddie, if ye
could but have stayed, that we might have gang
thegithcr ; but it 's the Loord's will, and we' 11
no be lang parted I "
The people slowly and sadly dispersed, talking
soberly of the young life that had so suddenly
gone out. From the position in which he had
been found, it was evident that the boy had
lingered to shut the tin-clad doors of the lamp
room, and been caught by the dense smoke and
AN ACCIDENT, 3^'
stifled. Rough men, calloused women, felt the
heroism of the deed, lowered their voices, for-
got their oaths, and truly mourned.
In her great grief and loneliness the Scotch-
woman seemed to cling to Miriam, and the young
girl, with the true instinct of noble womanhood,
prepared to spend the night at the cottage.
One of the firemen, a broad-shouldered young
man, who had quietly cleared the house of all
but a few women, was just leaving, when she
"Can you find me a messenger, sir.^ I wish
to send a note to my father, Mr. Whitney."
" I should be very glad to be the bearer of
any message for you," was his reply, and she
then recognized Chamberlain, and the real pleas-
ure that she allowed herself to show was very
grateful to him.
" God bless you ! " he said, holding out his
hand. "You are doing a noble, womanly deed."
The strong hand seemed to impart some oi
its owner's self-command, and she felt strength
ened. She watched him as he swiftly passed
through the long street and disappeared, ther.
shutting the door, returned to her self-imposed
task of soothing the stricken one, while the
**auld wives" tenderly prepared the form of
Jamie ere he should be forever laid out of sight.
312 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
As Chamberlain passed through the street on
his way to the Whitney place, he saw Gaffney
and several others earnestly conversing.
"Is the boy dead?" asked the grinder.
"Yes. The physician said that he inhaled the
smoke and flame, and must have been instantly
suffocated," was the reply.
" Poor, little feller ! " said Gaffney, the tears
springing to his eyes. "Shure it's many times
I 've seen him carrying water fer his grannie,
and choppin* wood, when you could see that
every step and every stroke was pullin* him to
pieces of pain ! Poor, little Jamie ! shure ye '11
never ha\e any more backache; the water-pail
will never again be too heavy fer ye, — poor, little
BOILER NUMBER SIX, 313
N his tiny room, preparing for the coming Sun-
day's wrestle with a class of Steep-street boys,
sat Chamberlain. It was no light task to train
the infant-minds of the mill youngsters. Their
views on theological subjects were unique. Not
at all bashful in expressing them, a teacher of
timid habit was apt to be disastrously over-
come. The young man was deeply interested in
his class, and they returned his affection, even
going so far as to indulge in shin-knocking and
hair-pulling, for the honor of sitting next to him.
As he digested the lesson, a heavy step
on the stair roused him from his work. The
door opened, and Sam Putnam entered.
"Are you willing to lay your papers aside, and
talk a bit.^" he inquired, awkwardly.
*'Glad to,'* was the reply. "Sit down."
The chair groaned as it received its weight;
but Sam, used to wooden protests, did not notice
314 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
" Maybe you have heard of my change of
base?" he remarried, interrogatively.
**Well, I thought perhaps the agent told you
I had decided to train in the company that you
joined not long since."
'*Do you mean that you have given your heart
to the Lord Jesus } "
"That is just the checker," said Sam, wiping
his eyes. "I am in dead earnest. Not a wink
of sleep have I had for two nights, I am so
happy. It makes me strong as a giant. Why,
I believe I could sling a small-sized locomotive
over my head and not strain myself ! "
" I am so glad to hear it ! It will be a help
to us all. Do you know, Mr. Snow, Miss Whit
tier, and myself have been praying for you foi
a long time } How it will rejoice the others to
know that our prayers are answered."
" What possessed you to pray for me ? " was
the surprised reply.
** Steep Street listens to you, — follows you.
We pra3^ed that you might awake to your re-
**I fflt as if something or 'nother was stirred
up abont me. For a long time I fought it off,
but at last had to give in. Bless the Lord that
I didl The matter about Lamson troubled m^
BOILER NUMBER SIX. 3^5
I determined to have it settled all right, so I
went to him and refused any longer to do his
bidding. He was mad at first, but finally when
I told him the reason, he cooled down and told
me I done just right. He has given up the
polish work altogether. Says there was n't any
money in it, and that he is out of pocket for
running it. Besides, he owned that it was wrong,
and that he was sorry. It considerably aston-
ished me when he said that. He is not in the
habit of thinking that he has done wrong. Per-
haps, after all, he is as good as the rest of us."
" But Tam accuses him of having some fearful
revenge upon him because he would not consent
to be one of the polish gang. How is that.^"
" Have you ever heard the story of Boiler
"No, I have not."
" Well, that is what Tam refers to when he
lays his disfigurement to Lamson. I am in no
hurry, and if you can spend the time I will
" Do ! I shall be interested," answered Cham
berlain, sitting back to enjoy one of "Sam's
"This boiler was pretty near thirty feet long,"
began Putnam, crossing his knees and entering
upon the recital with all the zest of a natural
3l6 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
Story-teller. "It was built after a plan of Lam-
son's, and had but a few flues, and those at
the sides. As it was very large, this manner of
construction left a large tunnel in the centre,
capable of holding a score of men in single file.
One thing curious about this boiler was its faculty
f jr attracting a sediment. Every little while some
of us had to go in with hammer and chisel to
chip off the hard, porcelain-like scale. Possibly
this was from the defect in the construction.
However that may be, there was an everlasting
bother with that boiler. Lamson would hear no
word against it, and no matter how it acted,
how much fuel it used, and how little steam it
produced, he stood up for it. It usually fell to
my lot to go inside, because I can stand an
awful amount of heat. And so jealous was the
agent of its reputation, that he did not wish it
to be idle a moment hardly, and he would have
made me go in to clear it before it was fairly
blown off, had it been possible. I have seen the
steam at forty pounds in it, and Lamson so
anxious not to have it cooled too much, that he
put a man at work unscrewing the manhole
plate, and blew the packing half across the boiler-
" One night word came from the office that I
must stay and clear out Number Six. I was
BOILER NUMBER SIX. 317
tired out at the time, and went in and made a
row about it. I told Lamson that about half of
my time was spent inside of that boiler, and
suggested that he build an office in it, and let
me stay there all the time. He was kinder pro-
voked, and flared up a little, but when he found
that I was really played out, he ordered Tam
McDonald to help me. I was to do the bossing,
and he the chipping. Tam was a fine, strong
man, although small, and did almost all the pip-
ing in odd comers and in tough places, because
he was so hardy. He could stand heat almost
as well as I could, and I was mighty glad of his
Sam paused and looked back into the past as
if he had the whole scene before him.
"It was nearly eleven o'clock before it was
cool enough for us to enter. Tam went first,
and I followed. On the hot floor of sheet-iron
we laid a few short boards, to make it more
comfortable. I can recall distinctly just how Tam
looked as he went in with his lantern and his
tools. He was a fine, ruddy-appearing man, with
an intelligent air that won him many friends.
For a long time he worked away, the hammer
ringing like a bell on the sides of the boiler,
and the echoes filling our ears till it seemed as
if we should never hear any thing else. At
3l8 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
length I noticed that he appeared uneasy. Finally
he said, —
" ' Sam, I don't feel that all is right. I have
an intuition that Lamson intends me harm to-
night. I wish we were out of this.*
" I had more faith in Tarn's intuitions and
second -sights than I was willing to own, and
though I joked at his superstitions, I could not
help looking a bit nervously at the little man-
hole 'way down at the further end of our prison.
We had not finished our work when Tarn grew
so fearful that I consented to go out for a few
minutes, and look around just to satisfy him.
We started, — I was ahead, of course, for there
was not room to pass in the queerly-constructed
interior. I had gone but a little way when I
heard a quick hiss, and knew that steam had
been turned into the boiler. The only thing to
do was to hurry as fast as possible for the
manhole. With all the strength and quickness
that I possessed I darted for the little opening,
Tarn close behind me. The steam coming in
faster and faster, no longer hissing, but rattling
against the expanding flues and fast-heating sides.
Swiftly we hurried, but swifter came the steam.
I loved Tam, and would far rather had him in
front of me, for in spite of my fear of the
steam, my faith in my own probable escape from
BOILER NUMBER SIX, 3^9
harm was just what every young, strong man
" Queerly enough, a prayer that my mother
taught me came into my mind, and repeated
itself over and over. The few seconds that we
were in passing the length of the boiler seemed
like ages. Never in my life have I exerted my
self to get ahead, or appeared to progress so
slowly. At length I swung myself out of the
manhole, and turned to help Tam. He had
dropped just under it, right in the steam. Muf-
fling my face, I reached down and drew him
out just as one of the workmen shut off the
"For a long time Tam was very sick. When
he recovered, he was so disfigured that his own
mother would not have known him. The shock
also affected his mind, and he seemed unable
to reason clearly. He had told me all about
Lamson's enmity, and now he insisted that the
agent had done this in order to assure his re-
venge. That was absurd. Lamson had nothinj
to dc with Tam's being hurt, further than. Ijis
sending him to help me was concerned. An;l
when he heard that Tam charged him with it,
he was fearfully worked up, and he did all he
could to shut him up. He finally succeeded iu
having him put in an insane asylum. But ha
320 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
did n*t stay long. He escaped, and was not
heard of for a long time. At last it was dis-
covered that he was living in the stone-cutters'
shed, in the rear of the mill. Lamson was going
to have him sent away at once, but one or two
of us stepped forward, and gave him to under-
stand that we should not allow any more inter-
ference with Tarn. So he was let alone, and
since then he has lived where you saw him."
*'Then it was not really his fault that Tam
became so disfigured.?"
"Not at all. He knew nothing about it, —
but Tam will always believe that it was his
"If I am not mistaken, Tam was at the fire
in the mill the other day," remarked Cham-
"Yes, that is another of his queer notions; he
will go miles to a fire. People about here
do not know who he is, as a general thing, yet
he is always on hand when there is a blaze.
He *s a worker, too, when there is any thing to
do. I have seen him do things that I would not
dare attempt. Did you ever hear tell of the
* Coffin house' fire?"
"No, tell me, please."
"It was several years ago, — soon after Tam
escaped from the 'sylum. He used, at times, to
BOILER NUMBER SIX. Z2\
see me and talk things over, and was sensible
on everything except his own trouble. Any refer-
ence to that would rouse him at once. So I
used always to avoid mentioning it. One even-
ing, as I was speaking with him down back of
the mill, he all of a sudden held his head up
and snuffed the air ; just as a horse sometimes
does ; then he looked around in a frightened way
and says, —
** * Sam, there is a fire up on the street ! *
" * Nonsense.^ ' says I.
"* There is, and iii a few minutes there will be
" I did n't take any stock in what he said,
but sure enough, within five minutes came a
rousing alarm, and we were all putting as hard
as we could, first for the engine-house, and then
for the fire. It was in a queer-shaped old tene-
ment-house that was called the * Coffin house'
from its shape; the name just described it. How
many families were crowded into it, would be
hard to say, but when we got there the street
was filled with all sorts of household goods, half-
dressed children, crying women, and swearing
men. The house was only an old shell anyway,
and in spite of our best efforts, the flames
had it all their own way. We pumped all of
the wells dry, and finally went to the river, and
322 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
then had to stop every few minutes to put in a
fresh section of hose, it burst so often.
"When the whole building was one mass of
blaze, with the exception of the end furthest
from the street, word went round that an old,
blind woman, who occupied an attic, had been
forgotten and was still in the building. The
women fairly shrieked when they heard it, and
all the men could do was to help on the
* brakes,' or stand and stare. We were n't well
provided with ladders, and even if we had been,
none could have gone into any part of the upper
stories. I had come up from the river to look
after the hose-men, when the story was told me,
and almost at the same instant I caught sight
"He had just been informed that the old lady
was within, for he looked about with a wild air,
then made straight for a big apple-tree that
leaned over the tenement. Its leaves were already
crisping, and its twigs curling and sizzling with
the heat. Like a squirrel, Tam climbed the
trunk, springing from branch to branch, till he
reached the big one that hung over the gravelled
roof. No tight-rope gymnast could have run along
this, easier or surer than he. An instant later,
and he stood on the roof, the flames curling up
over the eaves on all sides of him.
BOILER NUMBER SIX. 323
"Not willing to have him left entirely without
support, I climbed part way up the tree myself,
and shielding my face with my coat, watched his
movements. Whether or not any one had told
him which skylight was the right one, I don't
know, but he did not hesitate a minute, but ran
up to one, kicked it in, and swung himself
through. After a little, he jumped out again, and
then reached down and drew up the old woman.
She wasn't bigger than a ten-year-old, hardly, and
could n't have weighed over eighty pounds, at the
most. Tam lifted her as easy as if she been a
baby, and brought her to the edge of the building.
Then for a minute he seemed at loss, till he
saw me. Before I could decide what was best,
he sung out, —
"* Watch out, Sam Putnam!' and tossed the
little woman right into my arms. I had my legs
wound round the tree with, what I thought, was
a good hold, but it almost upset me. Still I
managed to cling on and catch the old woman.
She was trembling all over, poor body, and mut-
tering prayers, but she never screeched or strug
gled a bit. By the time I had recovered myself,
Tam was with me, and between us we got her
down to the ground in safety."
"The people must have gone wild over such
3-4 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
*'They did; but Tarn disappeared at once, and
even I could n't find him for nearly two weeks.
I don't know as I would have found him then
if he had n't been praying ; and speaking of that,
his prayers have been to me more than words
can express. It was poor Tam McDonald that
kept alive in my breast the wish for a better life.
He did not know it, but the influence of his
life upon me was more than that of any other
Christian that I ever knew."
"This fact of our individual influence frightens
me," said the younger man, musingly. "It seems
always with us, and strongest when we are off
"Do you feel that way.?" was the surprised
query. " Why, I s'posed that was peculiar to me !
And I 've wished with all my heart that there
was in the Bible some prayer that I could get
hold of, that I might keep a Christian tongue
in my head when I am off guard."
"*Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth:
Keep the door of my lips,' " repeated Chamber-
GAFFNEY'S LUCK. 3^5
^^ra'THERE is never any bad accident happens
iP to a drunken man," said Swinert, to the
crowd who were sitting on the " casting bench,"
eating their dinners. **Now, there is Gaffney. I
have seen him drunk as a fiddler, in all
sorts of dangerous places, and he always came
out straight. If a sober man had gone through
with one-half of what he has, he would have
been killed a half-dozen times."
" That *s true," was the universal assent.
" Now, when he went to McCloskey's funeral,
and drove his team off of the railroad bridge,
killing the horse and smashing the carriage, he
was not hurt a whit. Any sober man would
have been dashed to pieces."
"No doubt of it," agreed all.
"And when he fell under the fly-wheel of the
engine and had the clothes all scorched off of
his back, but came out as lively as a cricket,
326 ffis OPPORTUNITY.
— a decent, honest man would have been knocked
to inch bits."
^'He would that."
"Then there was the time he got full, and
tried to hang himself in Bob Jones's barn, and
the rope broke three times. S'pose it would
have broken with a teetotaler } "
" No, sir ! " chimed the audience.
The whistle blew, and the group scrambled
down from their seats and hurried away to
work. At the end of the procession staggered
Gaffney. He had been close by when they
were discussing him, but was too drunk to
catch the drift of their remarks. There was
something a little singular about his numerous
escapades. He never seemed to get badly in-
jured, and yet he was continually in trouble.
So famed was he for his escapes, that the
phrase, *'Ga£fney's luck," was often used in the
mill to express a never-varying good fortune
that pulled its possessor through the most
With a jolly, unstable gait, he followed in the
rear of the crowd. He was a privileged char
acter in the mill, and was allowed to go and
come as he pleased. With no thought of going
to work, he entered the grinding-room, and
looked about for amusement. He usually chose
GAFFNErS LUCK. 32?
this room for larks, as the men were all on
piece-work and were not obliged to attend closely
to their occupation at all times. Among the
grinders was a young Frenchman, whom it was
his special delight to torture. He was a good,
conscientious workman, but very timid. When-
ever he saw his tormentor coming, even though
the latter had no hostile design, he turned scar-
let, and fidgeted in his seat, and, if possible,
escaped. He now saw him, and, slipping down
from his lofty seat in the wooden saddle over
the whirling grindstone, he hurried off to a safe
distance and stood, anxiously regarding his foe.
Gaffney looked at him in ludicrous contempt,
and then made his way up to the stone. The
great wheel of granite was whirling so rapidly
and evenly that it seemed not to move. It was
beautifully "trued," and in just the condition to
do the best work. With particular care and
cumbrousness the drunken wag climbed into the
saddle and picked up a file, then glanced over
his shoulder, in exact imitation of the frightened
Frenchman. The caricature caught the eyes of
the workmen, and they roared with laughter.
The one to whom the stone belonged came
slowly and hesitatingly forward, sorely afraid to
venture near, and just as much afraid to stay
32S HIS OPPORTUNITY,
■ - ' ' > <
"Look here, Parley Voo. See me grind for
you. You should put the end of the file on
the stones, so as to make a decent little groove,
like this," remarked Gaffney.
rlc placed the end of the file as stated, and
dug a deep grove in the smooth surface. The
Frenchman uttered a cry of anguish.
**Hear him applaud me," said Gaffney. "No
bokays, please. I 'm a very modest man, I am.
Let me do as I wish, and don't compliment
The crowd shouted in applause, for the
Frenchman, with his quiet, cowardly ways, and
his money-getting and money-saving qualities, was
not a favorite. To be sure, two or three of
the older men spoke in disapproval, but they
were not heard, nor did they expect to be. To
the undisguised delight of the lookers-on, Gaff-
ney still sat in the wooden saddle, ludicrously
imitating the motions of his victim. It was
cruel sport. The Frenchman suffered so that he
danced up and down in agony. From one to
another he looked for relief, with extravagant
gestures and unintelligible appeals, but he only
met mirthful faces, devoid of sympathy. In the
midst, however, of their laughter and shouting,
there came a fierce crash. The air was filled
with bits of plank, dust, and debris. For an
GAFFNEY'S LUCK. 329
instant none knew what had happened. Then
they saw that the swift-whirling stone, over
which the drunken man had been seated, had
torn loose from its shaft, and, in three frag-
ments, had crashed through the partitions, in a
mad flight into the yard. A dozen feet away
lay a helpless figure, the blood slowly oozing
from his mouth. It was Gaffney. The rough
men took him up carefully, and bore him away
to a quiet room, where his wounds could be
examined, and the crowd kept at bay. After an
anxious half-hour on the part of the men, word
came that the injuries were not serious, — that
he would recover.
"Just as I said," remarked Swincrt. "You
cannot kill a drunken man; some power pro-
"Gaffney's luck," echoed the crowd.
There was more truth in the saying than
they knew, for that accident was the best good
fortune that ever the poor fellow had. He wa3
taken to a 'cottage not far from the mill, as hii5
home was not fit to nurse a savage in,
and his wife was away on a drunken spree.
Here he had an opportunity to reflect on his
past life. He could get no liquor, and after the
first crazy thirst passed away, he began, with
the peculiar philosophical spirit that he possessed,
330 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
to institute comparisons, and think things over,
in a manner that would have been impossible,
had he been drinking his usual allowance.
One afternoon, when deep in his cogitations,
a knock fell on the door, and in came a young
lady. The sick man glanced up in surprise,
and a frown gathered on his brow. He didn't
want to be "missionaried."
"Excuse me. Miss," he said, "but perhaps
you didn't know that I was sufferin' from
small-pox } "
" No, sir, I did not know it," she said, as
she seated herself. "This is Mr. Gaffney, is it
not, and how is the broken arm.^"
"Better," was the surprised reply. "Say, —
Miss, is my name on the door-plate?"
"I think not, I do not believe the house has
such a thing."
"I know it didn't before I was sick, but
I didn't know but they had put one on it
for the use of the ministers, and col porters, and
evangelists. It saves their knocking and en-
" I came from the mission-school. My name
Is Whitney," said the lady.
"Well, I'll be blamed! Did you think
maybe you might get me to sign the pledge ? "
GAFFNEY'S LUCK 33 ^
" And give up smoking, too ? "
"If you feel inclined."
"Stop cussin' and swearin', of course?"
"Join the mission-school, and become pious?"
" I hope so."
"Well, I don't know about that. Where is
That question was one that every scoffer in
the village asked, when he intended to knock
any religious fact to pieces.
"I do not think that is your affair. The
Lord knows where he is, and all he requires of
you, is to get in the right place yourself."
"Well, I was quite impressed by a little talk
that I had with Mr. Chamberlain, not long ago,
but when he pointed out Temple as an example,
and I found him howling drunk, it rather took
the edge off his remarks."
" Let us not talk of Temple. He must answer
to God alone. I believe that one day he will
be saved, even if he did fall in so terrible a
manner. The question is, are you willing to be
saved from your appetite for liquor?"
" Certainly, I am. Miss, if it can be done,
which it can't," was the positive reply. " You
can't argue me into that."
" I cannot argue at all, but I know what I
332 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
believe,'* replied Miriam, with a tremble in her
voice. " There a^e numbers praying for you
every day. We want you to know that at
half-past six every evening we pray that the
Lord will heal your body, and heal your soul,
and we believe He is going to do it."
** It 's an awful waste of time," said GafFney.
"Now if you prayed for Sam Putnam, who is
■some good, it would be worth while, but to
pray for me ! Pshaw ! I call it foolishness."
"We did pray for Sam Putnam, and he has
joined us, and is praying for you."
"Why don't he come and talk to me, and
argue a little .? "
"All the argument necessary you will find in
this Bible, which is his gift to you. He pre-
fers to spend his time in praying for you."
"Well, I hope you will succeed," said Gaffney.
as Miriam took leave.
"We shall," was the reply, with a bright
Moving as much as his bandages would per-
mit, the wounded man reached out for the vol-
ume that Putnam had sent. During the visit
of the fair, young missionary, he had been
regarding it with an interest that amounted
almost to eagerness, although veiled by a pre-
tense at skeptical argument. Once in bis hand,
GAFFNETS LUCK. 333
he sank back exhausted, but with a look of
content on his face that his sufferings would
" So, they are sure of success, are they ? "
he murmured, a glow appearing on his cheek.
** Sure to save me. And they are praying for
you, Gaffney, and my old woman, too, God pity
her ! She was once a decent, tidy body, as fine-
looking as any of them. Mayhap if she had got
a better man she might have been all right
now. Praying for me ! Weil, that beats every
thing. I wish they knew how happy that makes
me feel, only I should never have the cheek to
tell them, after all IVe been and done."
With a motion of affection and reverence, he
slipped Putnam's gift under his pillow, and, still
holding his hand on it, closed his eyes, not to
sleep, but the better to think. Breaking rudely
into his day-dreams came a heavy step on the
stairs, the latch lifted, and Josselyn came in.
His face was pale, and he looked exceedingly
"How do you get on?" he enquired of the
"Be round in time for the monthly meeting?"
The other shook his head.
" You won't be well enough to come ? " per-
334 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
sisted Josselyn, with an accent of eagerness that
he seemed unable, wholly, to suppress.
Gaffney eyed him distrustfully.
"I suppose," he said, a dangerous light com-
ing into his eyes, and the muscles on his bared
arm swelling as his hand convulsively grasped
the hidden volume, — *' I suppose if you saw a
poor, tired sailor, wrecked, crawling up on a rock,
with only just strength enough to get on to it,
you would go down and shove him back into
the water, and then laugh at his drowning agony ;
would n't you t "
" What do you mean t '* was the choked
"Why, if you saw a man, who had never
done you any harm, trying, by the giace of
God, to get rid of a habit that was destroying
him, and you knew his weakness, you would pull
him down and get him back into it, would n't
"I know I am guilty; but if ever a man has
suffered for such a sin, it has been me. At
the time, it seemed a little thing. I put the boys
up to it for a mere lark; and though I in no wa)
justify my action, they carried it further than 1
"Yet that plan dashed me down when I had
at last climbed upon the Rock, — when I was
GAFFNEY'S LUCK, 335
helped upon the Rock," said Gaffney, a wail in
his voice that made the other shiver.
"Then you intend to go to the monthly meet-
ings ? You will take up the old life ? " asked
"Take it up again, — no!'* thundered the sick
man, amazed at what he deemed the other's anxiety
to keep him among the liquor-drinkers. " I have
got my lesson. I shall know enough to keep out
of temptation now ; I was too sure last time, and
I have suffered for it. Now I shall keep away
from all sight and smell of liquor, — I've learned
"Thank God!" ejaculated Josselyn.
" That you are saved ; that you are not going
back to the old life. Do you know that / have
prayed? — that I have been on my knees, asking
God to keep you from going to ruin on my ac-
count } And I believe he has heard my prayer."
Gaffney grew very sober. Finally he said, —
"I'm mighty glad for you; but I've just found
out something that makes me feel kinder ba/I,
"What is it?"
"Well, now you were praying for me, and I
was feeling bitter toward you. If I had been the
least sort of a Christian, I would have been p^ay-
33^ HIS OPPORTUNITY,
ing for you. Well, I believe^ anyhow, and as
soon as I can, I '11 ketch on to the rest. Give
us your hand, old man ; we will travel this new
path together. And when you go into the mill
to-morrow morning, and some one mentions *Gaff-
ney's Luck,* just tell them of this last good for-
tune that has come to me. Tell them to drop
L\ and I'll give them the whole story."
LAMSON'S TRIUMPH, 337
fOR some reason, a great an(f sudden change
had come over Miriam Whitney. Not that she
was less lovable or less cheerful when among
her friends, but she seemed to have lost all in-
terest in the affairs at the North Church,
and if one could observe her closely, it would
be seen that she constantly avoided the places
where Chamberlain was likely to be found. As
a strong friendship had sprung up between them
prior to this, it troubled the young man not a
little. After the death of Jamie, the cripple,
Miriam had done much to comfort the stricken
grandmother, and in her frequent visits found a
" You 're looking poorly, dear," said the keen-
eyed little woman, laying down her knitting-
needles and surveying her visitor anxiously, on
one of these occasions.
33^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"I do not feel very strong," acknowledged
Miriam, flushing. "I haven't slept well of late."
"Do you lie with yeer head to the Noorth.?"
**I don't know," said she, faintly smiling.
"Now, Mr. Chamberlain, the last time he
called, were advising me aboot this verra point,
as I had been telling him that since Jamie's
-death I were wakeful. He said that there
were those who believed that if one turned their
bed so that the head was Noorth, and the foot
Sooth, one could sleep better. But he said when
he were sleepless, he started out and walked all
the neet, and then next neet he slept. And what
led me to think of him, there he is yonder,
coming down the hill."
The young lady looked up the street. The
erect, familiar figure was rapidly nearing the
"He won't come in here, will he?" she said
"He rarely passes without a word," responded
the old lady, complacently.
"I don't want to see him, I can't see him!"
said Miriam, plaintively. " What shall I do } "
" Poor bairn, your nerves are all unstrung ; ye
can slip into the bedroom yonder and lie doon
and rest ; he '11 not be long here."
With a thankful smile, she gathered up her
LAMSOrrS TKIUAfPff. 3 9
wraps, slipped into the cosy room, closed tl •
door, and in a moment heard the pleasant voic
of the caller mingling with that of the Scotcl
"I brought down that volume of Burns
Poems," she heard him say, ** Burns has always
been a favorite of mine. I remember when a
youngster, poring over the book by the hour.
Indeed I think it is from him that I imbibed
my love for the Scotch."
"My gude-mon used to read the * Cotter's
Saturday Neet,' " said Mrs. Bruce, with a slight
tremble in her voice. " It 's lang years since
I 've heard it. Would it be asking too much if
I wished ye to read a part of it.?"
"Not at all, if you can stand my pronuncia-
tion," was the reply.
Throughout the whole of the sweet poem, the
rich, strong voice of the young man rose and
fell in harmony with the matchless thought.
The sound welled in through the wide crack
over the sagging bedroom door, and the trem-
bling girl in the chintz-covered rocking-chair,
fearful almost ' to breathe, lest her presence be
suspected, hid her face in her hands, while the
hot tears flowed unrestrained.
"Ye need not tell me that yeer mother was
not a Scotch lassie," said the old lady, wiping
340 HIS OPPORTUmTY.
her eyes. " How else could ye have gotten the
dialect so perfect ? "
" I think it must be because I have always
enjoyed talking with your people," replied he,
smiling, "but my pronunciation does not suit
me yet. The genuine, fascinating burr is not
there, and I am doubtful if any but a native
of Scotland can ever acquire it."
"Ye should hear some of the elocutionary
students from the town read it," said Mrs.
Bruce. " Eh, it 's enough to make one weep.
They have it mixed up with 'Irish, and such
folly as they make of it is beyond compreheen-
"I have heard them. They are thought very
fine by some audiences, but they should never
air themselves before the Scotch."
Chamberlain took out his watch, and, looking
at it with some surprise, said : " It is later than I
thought, I must go." Then, taking the old lady's
hand, ^ he asked if there was any thing that she
lacked, as kindly and gently as if he had
been her son.
When the little woman entered the bedroom,
Miriam was sobbing bitterly.
"Eh, my poor bairnie, here is trouble of which
you friends ken naething ; heartache that nane
but woman can bear. Is not that it, lassie?"
LAMSON'S TRIUMPH. 341
"Yes," was the faint response.
*' Aweel, darling, it 's our lot to suffer. I have
felt at times as if the end had come, as if I
could not stand more. Those for whom I would
gladly have given life have been taken. I
have wept till my tears are all gone. Now I
can but pray to the Loord for help."
The little woman soothed, petted, and crooned
over her until the storm of grief passed, and
then bathed her face and eyes, and arranged
"Forgive an auld wife's question, dearie," she
said, as Miriam stood ready to depart. "Are
ye quite sure that you are right in yeer sor-
"Yes," was the answer, with decision that
left no room for misunderstanding, "very, very
"Aweel," soliloquized the Scotchwoman, after
her visitor had gone, " It *s a sore pity if they
maun not be brought thegither. So bonny and
weel-matched a pair are seldom seen. I must
not, I daur not meddle with it, but if matches
are made in heaven, the Loord grant that this
may be ain."
As for Miriam, although not for the world
would she have acknowledged an affection for
Chamberlain to any of her friends in the upper
342 ms OPPORTUNITY.
town, yet with lowly Mrs. Bruce she felt wholly
safe. Possessed of a most positive conviction that
there was an insurmountable barrier between
them, — a barrier, not of station, nor of wealth,
but one arising from a clouded and disgraceful
early record on his part. The knowledge that
she had all came from Lamson, and it was not
wonderful that he maligned his rival to the best
of his ability, and did it in a way that made it
seem the merest accident of speech.
During the past few months Lamson had been
a frequent visitor at the Whitneys*. With unob-
trusive persistence he worked his way into the
almost daily presence of the father and daughter,
until he came to be an accustomed member of
the small family circle. Miss Whitney at first
entertained a mild dislike for him, but the cour-
tesy with which he ever addressed her and the
tact he exercised in letting her alone, made her
grateful, and she soon learned to tolerate him.
In place of the sharp pain that she had felt
when she had learned that Chamberlain was so
weak and unworthy, came an indifference to almost
every thing that took the zest and the poetry
out of life. Under cbe ordeal she had grown pale,
and her voice had a faint, hardly noticeable
plaintiveness that told of tears shed in secret.
it was pitiful, or would have been had one pen-
LAMSOirS TRIUMPH. 343
etration sufficient to read her beautiful face, to
note the effort made by her to be interested in
those around her, and in quiet charities, and the
failure of it all.
Realizing her own weakness, she came to ad-
mire the strength of the silent gentleman who
was so often, before her. By degrees he began to
lead her into conversation, in which she, strangely
enough, did most of the talking.
The power that he exercised in interesting her
in things to which she had thought herself for-
ever careless, surprised, fascinated her. Mingling
with the half -smothered pain in her heart, came
the distinct assertion of her father, told with
pleasure, that this man loved her. It insinuated
itself more than once into her mind as she
talked with- him. It was only when she was
with him that she indulged this idea ; it was
only when his keen eyes were sparkling with
power that she felt thrilled by some poet from
which he quoted. It was only in his immediate
presence that the image of her love grew misty
and far away. When she was alone, the old
ache was there, and the dreary helplessness that
had been lifted for a few moments by the will
of the lawyer, closed around again with a deeper
Gradually the intimacy between Mr. Whitney
344 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
and the agent, which had been the excuse for
his many calls at the house, grew less, while a
new one was formed between the latter and
Miriam. Just how it was that the father drifted
into the background and changed places with
his daughter could hardly be told. That it was,
ere he was aware, the established order of
things, the gentleman finally discovered, and was
far from being displeased.
Resistance to a hidden, unsuspected foe, is out
of the question. An individual who gains advan-
tage after advantage, without the least show of
exultation, who conquers but indulges no triumph,
is an enemy to be feared. Such was Lamson.
No sign that he knew anything of the power
that he exerted came to the surface. If Miss
Whitney was silent and downcast, and did not
choose to be entertained, he made her forget
her troubles by some word or thought, in which
there was infinite skill. When she discovered
that in spite of adverse resolve, she was for-
saking her clinging misery, and felt a flash of
anger against him as the direct cause of her
forgetfulness, he was unmoved as ever, and ap-
parently had no knowledge of what he had
accomplished. This marble calmness was the
fortress of his strength. Once assumed, he was
impenetrable. To be sure he recalled the first
LAMSOirs TRIUMPH. 345
of his visits at the Whitney mansion, and the
coolness with which his advances toward Miriam
had been received. He remembered the favor
shown Chamberlain, until checked by his insinua-
tions, and the remembrance of it, even in the
present plenitude of his power, galled him. He
was not suspected of vanity, yet his conceit
was overpowering ; although so determined was
the cast of his character, that it was ever held
under and hidden from view. His guile partook
of the features of positive genius. Were Mr.
Whitney with all of his shrewdness and his keen
intuitions questioned, he could not have advanced
a single word or expression of Lamson's, that
mirrored aught but good. This mxay have been
in part due to the influence that his place in
the church inspired. But a more excellent reason
was that he had the faculty for playing the part
of a Christian gentleman to the last limit of
In a measure, Miriam felt as did her father.
There was nothing with which to find fault.
He was so courteously master of himself at all
times ; never intruding ; ever foremost in giving
to all charitable enterprises, — she had absolutely
nothing to reinforce the vague distrust in her
heart, and was at a loss to comprehend it. Often
she wondered what she really did feel toward
34^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
this omnipresence in faultless broadcloth. If she
could not divine, he well knew. His finger was
on her pulse and marked its every beat. The
whole violent nature of the mill agent was con-
centrated in, not a desire, but a resolve to marry
Miriam Whitney. Whatever stood in the way
should be removed or trampled under foot. Who-
ever interfered, let him beware. A single, un-
flinching resolve is a fearful thing to face. All
that grit and pluck mean to the sporting man
were expressed in his fixed determination, and
he was on that ground alone almost certain to
The majority of people plod through life eye-
less, earless. Broadsides of hints and suggestions
as to the character, disposition, aims, and abili-
ties of those with whom they have to do are
fired at them, and they know nothing of them.
They persuade themselves that they can read
character, while they know not the initial letter
of its alphabet. Worthies of this ilk pronounced
Lamson a perfect gentleman, — a modest, retiring
man, whose quietness was akin to diffidence. To
the few who could read the average man, he
was distant from pride of birth and station ; none
in the upper settlement knew him as he was.
Of all the members of the North Church not
one read his character with the single exception
LAMSOirs TRIUMPH. 347
of Chamberlain, and he was not likely to bruit
his knowledge to the world at large.
All through the summer, — the last summer of
Chamberlain's apprenticeship, — this quiet, unsus-
pected wooing went on. At every move Miriam
lost, Lamson gained. In his moments alone his
face wore a look of proud strength, — hers one of
unrelieved sadness. At times she half realized
her position, but was without force to resist.
No word of love had this silent visitor spoken,
yet he felt as sure of possessing her as if she
wore the betrothal ring. His thought was not
that he should win, but that he had won.
Since he had become so intimate with the
Whitneys, the visits to the mill village had be-
come less frequent. Not that Miriam had lost
her interest in the little ones that she taught
when opportunity offered, but rather from the
excuses made by her father for staying away.
It did not occur to either that this was due to
Lamson's influence, yet that was it. He said
very little about the operatives. The fact that
they were wretched from drink and persistent
neglect, was sadly acknowledged by him, and he
had expressed in words a certain sympathy for
them, but he could do nothing to help them.
Miriam, in the first flush of her enthusiasm, had
appealed to him to do something for Steep Street,
34^ HIS OPPORTUNITY,
and had been quieted by the promise of an in-
vestigation, but it never came. None are so hard
to combat as those who will not fight. The
lawyer quietly held his own way without com-
ment, and his iron will and great tact gradually
drew the little family away from the mill folk.
With Chamberlain out of the field, it was not
hard to make them forgetful of the operatives.
For a time it seemed as if all that had been
done was to be entirely swept away by the
wave of wickedness that rolled in. Lamson, per-
haps, more than any other, saw what was going
on, yet he viewed it calmly, apparently neither
lifting his hand to help nor to binder.
**AS THE FOOL DIETH.'^ 349
^e/is • ll)e • K00I • y lef^.
N .spite of Mrs. Bowman's energetic and fre-
quently repeated protests, Pfaff had remained
at her house. At first, he had occupied Cham-
berlain's room, but that being too near the
noisy street, he was moved to one in the
rear. For more than a week he was a very
sick man. In his delirium, he divulged so much
of the raid on the store, that, had Chamberlain
not known all about it from Sam Putnam, he
would have been fully posted. When he became
sane he was very uneasy, and made one of the
most thankless of patients. Mrs. Bowman ex-
erted herself to do all that could possibly be
done for him, but he was not slow to show his
dislike for her.
Whether he ever had a conscience is a ques-
tion. No signs of such a regulator were ever
detected by those who were familiar with him.
While he remained there, he did not lack for
subjects to think about ; for, during his conva-
3 so HtS OPPORTUNITY.
lescence, his landlady daily suggested to him the
many evil deeds that he had committed, and
warned him of the terrible punishment that was
in store for him.
Since the mission had been started, numbers
of the lady teachers had made it a point to
call on the sick in the mill village. Pfaff was
not neglected in these calls. No matter what
was said, whether he was read with, or prayed
for, he preserved the same imperturbable coun-
tenance, and his thoughts, if he had any, were
never divulged. There were those who scoffed
at the idea of calling on the sick in this manner,
and inquired what good it did, pointing to Pfaff
as an example. Could they have gauged the
good will that it brought forth, from the look-
ers-on among the mill folks, their question would
have been fully answered.
As the sick man gained in health, he was
tormented by a raging thirst for stimulants. He
suggested to the physician, several times, in a
whisper, that a little whiskey would do him
more good than any thing else, but his hint was
quickly rebuked. Not understanding Chamberlain,
he attempted to bribe him to bring a pint, of-
fering a fabulous price, and was astonished at
his refusal. He tried every way that his inge-
nuity could devise, but in each case was check
*'AS THE FOOL DIETH." 35 >
mated. A careful watch was kept over him,
and, lest he should, in a fit of momentary
strength, attempt to go for it himself, his boots
and most of his clothes were put away and
locked up for safe keeping. Now that he was
gaining so rapidly, and entirely free from de-
lirium, a watcher was not needed. Chamberlain,
however, sleeping across the hall, left the door of
his room ajar, so that he could hear any movement.
One night, when all in the house were asleep,
except himself, Pfaff arose, shut the door, and
lighted a lamp. With a trembling, nervous
strength; he hunted for his clothes, and grew
black with rage at not finding them. Urged by
the terrible thirst that had for days been tor-
menting him, he resolved to go to his store and
satisfy it, come what would. He had no fear of
meeting any one on the street, as it was late and
was mid-week. The fact that his boots were re-
moved, only increased the obstinacy of his purpose
He hesitated a little over the absence of coal
and vest, and ended by wrapping a comforter
over his shoulders. Thus equipped, he stole out
of the room. With every faculty quickened by
his mad desire, he opened and closed doors,
never allowing a knob to rattle, or a hinge to
squeak. If doors stuck at the bottom, he firmly
^ifted up till they swung free. His nervous
352 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
acuteness forewarned him of a creaking stair, or
a loose banister-round, and he descended to the
basement as quietly as a shadow of the night.
The last barrier was successfully overcome,
and he stood in his stocking-feet, wrapped in the
comforter, bareheaded, in the little yard. Feverishly
he exulted in his freedom as he sped down the
street. Stumbling over tomato-cans, loose stones,
and gutter-wreck, but oblivious to pain, he made
straight for his store. No one met him. No
arm was stretched out to save him. Passing
around to the rear of the building, he entered
through a window that he alone knew how to
unfasten from the outside. Again he stood in
his own bar-room. Once more he could, with
unlimited resources, quench the burning thirst.
He had circumvented his watcher; had braved
the doctor. With an insane, half-articulate
chuckle, not stopping to light a lamp, he groped
his way behind the counter, and drank.
Morning dawned, and Mrs. Bowman, as usual,
with anger in her heart, and dire admonition on
her lips, entered the sick room, bearing the
invalid's breakfast. The bed was empty !
In great surprise, she stood, looking about,
hardly able to credit the evidence of her senses.
He had gone, and so had her best comforter, as
her quick eye discovered. Gone without paying
'AS THE FOOL DIE TIL'' 353
his board, and she slaving day and night for
him, just to please the mission folks ! With a
most emphatic tread, she went back to the
kitchen, and began her day*s work, without men-
tioning her discovery. Soon Chamberlain came
" Is Pfaff here ? '* he demanded, looking about
"No, he is not."
"Where is he.?"
**How should I know? When I carried up
his breakfast, a while ago, he was gone, and I
am glad of it. He stole my best comforter."
" But his clothes are locked up."
" Mercy ! so they are ! and his boots, too ! "
said Mrs. Bowman, awaking to the fact that it
might be more than the mere removal from one
boarding-house to the other.
To assure themselves, they went to the closet,
and found his things resting quietly in their
places, not having been disturbed.
" Most likely he took some one else's things,"
said the landlady.
But a search and close inquiry revealed no
"He must have wanted to go dreadful bad,
— barefooted, and in his shirt-sleeves, — after all
I *ve done for him," remarked Mrs. Bowman.
354 ff^S OPPORTUNITY.
" It was rum he was after," said her son.
" A rum-lover will go through any thing to get
it. I bet at this minute he is at some of the
shanties down-street, dead drunk."
** If he is, it will kill him," said Chamberlain.
" Oh, I guess not. It is wonderful, what a
drinking man can stand. I don't know but it will
be a good thing for him. He has been pining for
it for some time. Perhaps, after all, it was
what he needed. Nature knows," remarked a
neighbor, who had dropped in, with a feeling
that all true Steep Streeters had, "that there
was something goin' on."
" Nature knows, " almost screamed Mrs. Bow-
man. " It is n't nature that makes a man love
drink ! It is the devil, and his own appetite,
that he has for years cultivated ! And I tell
you, if I hear any more of your bar-room ser-
mons, I '11 show you that this is n't a saloon, or a
family rum-store, but an honest, temperance house."
Considerably abashed, the man slunk away
Soon after, the doctor came. He looked very
grave, when they told him about the patient.
" Where would he be likely to go } " he in-
quired, of Rc^.
"To McShaixs." was the answer. At once
they all went t. this shanty, but were told that
no trace of th^ s.ck man had been seen.
**AS THE FOOL DIETH.*' 355
At first the physician was inclined to doubt,
but the honest air of the proprietor of the
hnijse finally assured him that he was speaking
the truth, and that they must look further.
Somebody suggested the store, and the little
party of searchers went toward it. When they
reached the place, and knocked on the door,
quite a crowd collected, to see what was going
on. Up and down the street, the people, seeing
the gathering, threw up windows, and thrust out
uncombed heads. The gamins, running from all
sides, packed close to the doctor, who was making
the building ring with his vigorous knocking.
" Say, Mister, they is a winder opin round
back of the store. I seen it," called a youngster.
Learning that the statement was true, the
physician went round to the rear and climbed in,
leaving Chamberlain to keep the crowd back.
A minute later he came to the window.
*^He is here," he said.
** Why does n't he unlock the door } We want
to drink his health," said one of the crowd.
"He is dead," said the doctor, gravely.
It was even so. Behind the counter, in a
little pool of liquor, that had run out of a half
emptied bottle, his face resting against a cask
of ale, lay the rumseller. His thirst had been
quenched, never again to be awakened.
35^ . HIS OPPORTUNITY.
The news fell upon the gathered crowd with
startling effect The few who forced their vvay
in, and saw the bloated, disfigured face, th**
half-dressed form, the shoeless feet, came back
and told it with genuine horror. Never had
such a temperance sermon been preached in
Steelville as this mass of degraded clay now
preached. Every teller of the story, whether
liquor-lover or hater, was doing good work for
his neighbors, if not for himself. Steep Street,
at last, had a lesson that equalled its needs.
Pfaff was buried. As was the custom in the
mill village, there was a large funeral. Those
whom he had most injured, — the hard drinkers, —
were loudest in their expressions of regret. In
the little cemetery, back of the village, he was
laid, — to be forgotten as all supposed. When
his death was announced, relatives appeared and
claiming his property received it. They attempted
to continue the store, but through the efforts of
Chamberlain, backed by a strong public sentiment,
were refused, and the " Hole in the Wall " was
forever stopped up. After the division of the
property no money remained for a headstone.
Mrs. Bowman, indignant that it should be so,
said that at her own expense she would erect
one. No one objected. Three weeks afterward,
a slab, carefully cased, was carried to the ccme-
*'AS THE FOOL DIE TIL** 357
tcry and erected. For a day or two, no one
had curiosity enough to see what it said. At
length, one Steep-street gossip languidly strolled
over and after standing before it, in amaze-
ment for ten minutes, almost ran back to the
villacre. Soon others came. Then others. The
graveyard never before had so many visitors.
Even the Wilson monument, of Scotch granite,
had not attracted so much attention. Scores came
from the upper village. From far and near, from
the outlying districts, people journeyed to read the
inscription that was on the plain stone, which the
hand of charity had erected ; it read : —
^^ Here lies the body of
"Jacob Pfaff, — rumseller,
** Murderer of John Bowman^ Jacob Randall^ William
Seaforth^ Gabriel More^ Edmund Johnson^ Patrick
White and Wife, Timothy Sedgwick, Randall
Wilson, Tom McCarty, John Ferguson and
four Sofis, Tobey Escott, Richard Gob-
bin, Jacob Vrail, and many more
whose names cannot be recalled,
both of Men and Women^
Fathers, Mothers, and
Little Children. .
**When he ^all be judged let him be condemned. — Ps. 109:7,
"Let the extortioner catch all that he hath, and let strangers
■poil hts labor. — Ps. 109 : i L
"Because that he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted
the poor and i eedy man, that he might even slay the broken io
heart.— Ps. 109 16."
35^ ffIS OPPORTUNITY.
BOUT this time, Mr. Lamson received a
P3L telegram, which, to judge by its effect upon
him, did not contain good news. After its pe-
rusal, he paced the floor for an hour, his beetling
brows bent in deep thought. As one result of
this hour of reflection, the rest of the day was
spent at home in burning certain papers and
the few business letters that he had preserved.
He then sent an answer to the message that
had so agitated him.
At ten that evening, a man emerged from the
grove at the rear of the house, and advancing
cautiously to a side door, entered. With accus-
tomed step he made his way to the lawyer's
study, and was at once welcomed.
" You received my telegram 1 " said the
stranger^ taking off his slouch hat and revealing
a foxy physiognomy, that alone might have
stamped him as a sharper.
DOWN THE RIVER. 359
'*Yes," was the reply. "Why could you not
get cash ? "
*'T did at the last moment.'*
"Has the sale indeed been made?" was the
"Yes, I have the cash here in my bag."
"Good ! now all will be right. I can make
the investment that I wished, and reap a golden
The other made no reply, but watched the
agent's face with the keenest attention, as if
feeling that his partner was about to do some-
thing' in which he was to have no share. He
kept this attentive air through the evening, as
they talked on various topics. Lamson was, as
ever, quiet and controlled in his expressions, yet
a bright spot burning on each cheek, and the
dilated pupils of his eyes, showed that he was
laboring under excitement. His friend talked
with a purpose, keenly alive to every hint that
voice or countenance might suggest. The other
knew that he was being closely observed, that
the man before him was schooled in reading
men, and the knowledge made him restive. He
had found it necessary to take him into partial
confidence, and had purchased his co-operation at
a large price, but he also had plans that he did
not intend to divulge. He therefore guarded
3^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
every word, although speaking with assumed can-
dor. It was quite late when the stranger de-
parted, and although weary to the last pitch of
endurance, Lamson collected a few papers and
a large bundle of <>ills, and prepared to go out
into the night.
When all was prepared, he slipped out of the
back door, quietly locking it, and stood for an
instant looking up at his mother's window.
After a mute farewell, he dashed away a tear,
and noiselessly crossing the yard, entered the
grove at the rear of the estate, and was soon
threading its broad paths towards the river.
Had any of his friends encountered him at
that moment, it is doubtful if they would have
recognized him. Clad in a suit of the coarsest
material, his beard and mustache shaved off,
his thick hair cut close, hands and face pur-
posely roughened, he was no longer the easy,
polished gentleman, but had become a flat-footed,
heav)^visaged laborer. His disguise was perfect,
and with the great self-command and abundant
miraitry that characterized him, there was little
fear of detection.
The grove sloped gradually to the river })elow
the mills. Taking a well-kept path, he soon
gained the neat wharf, to which was tied a
pretty wherry. One might reasonably presume
DOWN THE RIVER. 36 1
that this boat was to aid in the flight, but it
was rot. A few rods further down, where a
dense thicket pressed so closely to the water's
edge tliat its advance guard stretched over and
dipi^ed its branches in the stream, was a small
canvas canoe. With some difficulty, it was
drawn from its security and laid alongside the
wharf. Carefully the valise was placed in it,
and then with more skill than one would expect
from so heavily built a personage, he stepped
in, gave the wharf a powerful shove with the
paddle, and was floating in mid-stream.
There was hardly any current in the black,
narrow river, and letting the boat drift, he
waited to discover, if possible, whether he had
been followed. Fully aware that he could not
trust his partner in the polish business, and
anxious to destroy every clue to the manner in
which he had left Steelville, he waited until sure
that no one was watching him from the deep
shadows of the pines in the grove.
The last doubt dispelled, he dipped the paddle
into the still water and moved down stream. A
few strokes, and rounding a bend, he was alone
— alone on the river, dead to the Steelville
The stream upon which he had embarked was
the same that furnished power for the file-fac-
3^2 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
tory, and from where he floated he could hear
the water roaring over the dam, a half mile
away. It was a deep, inky river, and from boy-
hood Lamson had known every part of it. He
had waded in the bubbling mud of its lagoons
for water-lilies, fished in all its pools, bathed,
boated, and skated its entire length; hence
when his eyes became accustomed to the dark-
ness, he was as much at home as he would
have been on the highway before his house.
Shut in by the walls of trees that grew down
to the river's edge, he moved along with no
sound but the quick plunge of the startled musk-
rat, the hoarse double bass of the bull-frog,
and the many voices that are audible only at
night. Such sounds make silence more profound.
There is no loneliness so complete as that which
comes over one in the midst of noisy, unsym-
pathetic life. So the fugitive, listening to the
uncouth language of reptile and insect, which
mingled with the gurgle of the water as it was
parted by the sharp prow of his boat, felt op-
pressed, as if he were threading an unknown
river in a planet which none but he had ever
before visited. It was this overpowering loneli-
ness that made him suddenly cringe when the
swift wing of some bird of night cut the air
close to him, or when the wheeling, invisible
DOWN THE RIVER. 3^3
» — ■
bats snapped their sharp teeth over some appe-
tising insect that the reedy banks afforded.
The first half mile of the liquid trail was
between thickets of trees. Their brooding shad-
ows, even in the darkness, shrouded the river
in a denser gloom. Here and there the whited
skeleton of some forest tree, from which the
water had sucked all vitality, stood a rigid, famil-
iar landmark. An occasional phosphorescent
stump glowed uncannily on the margin of the
stream. At times, the forest sentinels leaned far
over, till one seemed to be gliding through a
tunnel, and again they opened wide and allowed
the faint color of the clouds above to sift down
between their ranks. With carefulness, the voy-
ager felt his way along; turning perilous corners,
dodging snags that would have pierced the painted
canvas and defeated all for which he was work-
ing. Guarding against every danger, his whole
attention bent on the few feet that were visible
in front of the canoe, he paddled cautiously on-
Following the prodigal curves and bends that
doubled the distance, the light craft soon slipped
out of the dense woods into a tract of country
where only occasional clumps of oaks, interspersed
by thickets of alders and dwarf willows, obtained
foothold on the banks. On either side, leading
3^4 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
from the main stream, were shallow bayous
crowded with lily-pads, and in the season, holding
thousands of lovely Nymphae. A short distance be-
low was a low bridge of poles, used by the farm.ers
when getting wood or hay. Below this the banks
were entirely free from trees. On both sides
stretched square miles of prairie meadow. The
broad fields, as far as the eye could reach, were
alive with twinkling fire-flies. Far up on "Flint
Hill," a lofty eminence in the rear of Steelville,
gleamed a solitary light. Looking ahead through
the gloom, a ghostly shroud of river-mist could
be barely discerned, marking accurately the course
of the stream.
With more confidence, and less of overwhelming
loneliness, the fugitive dipped the paddle deeper
and oftener, sending the boat at a more rapid
rate on its way. Yet, even here the dangers of
navigation at night were not trifling. There were
sudden shallows where the keel grated ominously;
drift-wood logs that stuck endwise up-stream, as
if trying to shoulder the crowding water back ;
masses of matted river-grass, that clung with ob-
stinate tentacles to the boat's side, wrapped them-
selves about the paddle, and required vigorous
efforts to shake them off.
Down-stream still, past forests of flags, where
the bulrushes lifted their cockades like ramrods
DOWN THE RIVER. 3^5
in blossom; past the reedy houses of hundreds of
red-winged blackbirds. Does one ever forget one's
boyhood ? Was it strange that unsentimental
Lamson, weighed down by a sense of isolation
and danger, should recall minutely the king-
fishers' nests? the pickerel that he had captured
in certain shallows? the night-fishing with torches
for the wallowing horn-pouts? the best swimming
places? — all that made his early life so free and
At length he passed beneath the stone arch
of the railroad bridge. The river now ran close
beside a high ridge, a continuation of that upon
which the Whittier house was built. This ridge,
densely wooded with pine, maple, and oak, over
grown by tangled seines of thorny squirrel vine,
although so near the lower town, was not often
In its shadow the boat slid along till within
an eighth of a mile of the town, and then, where
a break occurred in the ridge, through which
trickled a tiny brook, Lamson stopped. Laying
aside the paddle, and catching the branches of
the thicket that completely hid the deep mouth
of the rivulet, he worked his way in with diffi-
culty. Erelong the ashen keel of the canoe struck
bottom. Standing erect, his head buried in the
mass of vines and leaves, he felt along the steep
3^6 ms OPPORTUNITY.
bank. In a moment he had discovered a stump
clinging determinedly to the gravelly slope, and
beneath, with one of its huge, bare roots for a
threshhold, an untenanted muskrat hole. A few
moments' work sufficed to enlarge the mouth of
the miniature cave enough to admit the valise.
Then, when it was carefully concealed, he pushed
out into the stream again, aud paddling to the
well-known " swimming hole," just below, landed.
It took but a short time to ballast the boat
with stones, float down almost to the mill pond,
land, cut two or three slits in the cloth sides,
and send it out into deep water to sink with a
remonstrating gurgle. The only clue to the
manner in which he had left Steelville being thus
destroyed, Lamson went to the little village and
had breakfast. After lounging about for a little
while, he bought a second-hand carpet-bag,
transferred the contents of the valise to it, and
started to walk the score of miles that intervened
between him and the city. Why he feared to
take the cars when so well disguised, does not
appear. Perhaps it was from the impression that
most defaulters, when apprehended, were found
either on a train, or in some railway station.
Leaving him following the turnpike road to-
ward the metropolis, we will turn back to ♦'he
town from which he so hastily fled.
DOWN THE RIVER. 3^7
A sweet-faced lady, scrupulously dressed, was
walking up Steep Street. Her appearance created
a deal of attention, of which she was unconscious,
as no one accosted her, except a few of the
"gutter snipes," who challenge everybody. The
walk was rather fatiguing, as her quickened
breathing, and cheeks faintly tinged with red,
suggested. At length she reached the upper
end, and stood looking back over the wretched
tenement-houses, the more distant mill buildings,
and finally far away to the blue hills that were
heaped up on the horizon.
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from
whence cometh my help," she murmured.
In the blue eyes was a pain that only the
kindest eyes can express. An unselfish, loving
look they held, that many a boy can recall when
he thinks of his mother. Advancing to the Bow-
man cottage, she knocked.
"Is Mr. Chamberlain in?"
"Yes'm. Won't you come in.? I'll call him."
Rob, with clumsy civility, led the way into
the sitting-room, pushed forward the calico-covered
rocking-chair, stumbled over the mat, and went
for the lodger.
When the latter entered the room, the little
woman rose, and with a sweet, anxious smile,
368 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"Is this Mr. Chamberlain?" * '
Without further words, the visitor stood before
him, in unaccountable embarrassment. Chamber-
lain was too much surprised by her agitation to
do more than seat her, and wait in silence for
her to speak. He had seen her face before;
where, he could not remember. She did not
look like the kind of person who would come
with a tale of trouble, or solicit alms, for her
dress was rich. The more he looked, the more
absurd this fancy seemed ; for he could not but
see her gold eye-glasses, costly lace, and expen-
Fully aware that it was no ordinary matter
that was thus overcoming her, by neither word
nor act did he strive to hurry her confidence.
At length she spoke: —
" You must pardon me," she said, in a voice
a little broken; "but I have just lost my boy."
Chamberlain bowed sympathetically.
"I hardly know why I have come to you; but
my boy often mentioned your name, and I
thought possibly you might help me get trace
Chamberlain, with quick perception, reasoned
that the lad had run away.
"It is easy as a rule to trace runaways;
DOWN THE RIVER. 3^
:hey either start for the prairie, or the sea. I
do not doubt, if you put a good detective on his
track, he can easily be found, and will be glad
to return. How old is he ? "
** You do not recognize me ? " said the lady,
a look of surprise on her face.
" I remember your face very distinctly, but I
cannot recollect where I have seen you."
" I am Mr. Lamson's mother."
Then Chamberlain remembered and at once
apologized, but was gracefully interrupted.
" You have met me but once, and then only
for an instant It would have been wonderful
if you had remembered me. I am to blame.
Had I not been troubled by my loss, I should
have introduced myself. Do you suppose there is
any means by which I can get word to my boy }
He was your friend, can you not suggest a way?"
Chamberlain reflected. He had never known
that Mrs. Lamson had a son other than the
agent. He pictured a fifteen-year-old, with the
same general make-up as the elder brother. The
mother, as a matter of course, was troubled and
anxious, but as he had told her the probabilities
were that the boy could be found, not far away
and all ready to return home. He was about
again to assure her of this probable happy ter-
mination, when she handed him a letter.
370 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
" This is a note he left," she said.
He opened it slowly, the troubled mother keep-
ing her eyes fastened upon him to catch every
expression written on his face. Surprise was
the first emotion he experienced, for the ietter
was in the agent's well-known chirography. It
was written on the File Company's letter-sheet,
and must have been penned at the office. It
read : —
^^ Dear Mother^ — Business troubles have overwhelmed
me, and I am forced at once to leave Steelville.
Please do not worry. There would be no help for
me if I remained here, as certain business transac-
tions to which I was party, would be misconstrued
and made to appear frauds. You know, my mother,
that my integrity remains unshaken. I shall one
day return free from all suspicion. You may not
hear from me for some time, as it will be best not
to give any of my enemies a clue to my where-
abouts. Remember this, dear mother, if I am in
any trouble that you can allevitate, you shall know
it. Let this thought comfort you.
"Your loving son,
Chamberlain's eyes were opened. It was not a
younger son ! It was the agent ! The whole
thing came before him in a flash. The " busi-
ness troubles" were the discovery of h«<» secre*
DOWN THE RIVER. 371
manufacture of polish, out of materials owned by
the company, by help paid by the company.
This was a most serious affair, for he had,
during the weeks past, been making careful es-
timates of the amount of stock thus consumed,
and found it was very large. Lamson's profits
in the business must have netted him a snug
little fortune. Since Sam had dismissed the
night gang, there had been nothing done in the
file-works in that line, and Chamberlain learned,
by writing to the city agency, that the right of
manufacture had been sold to a rival firm.
Just what to do in this crisis he did not
know. As soon as he had discovered exactly
how things stood, he wrote a letter to the at-
torney of two of the other members of the
company who were, at the best, but small stock-
holders, requesting that the matter be looked
into at once, and advising secrecy, that Lamson
might be apprehended, and the stolen money
refunded. In doing this, as was natural, he had
many doubts, for it is easy for one to make a
mistake, and accuse an innocent person. He
was sorely puzzled by many things that came
to light about the agent. At one time he had
thought him a fraud, and at another believed
that he was all right, and the reports about
him were malicious slanders. Now, however, his
37^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
sudden disappearance was an acknowledgment of
guilt. From his reverie he awoke to the fact
that the mother was patiently waiting for him
to give her some encouragement.
" Do you know where he has gone } " she
*'I am sorry to say, I do not," was the re-
"Has he not made a great mistake, in going
away like a criminal } Will not people say that
he has done wrong and been forced to flee to
save himself from punishment } "
"I fear they will."
" Mr. Chamberlain, a few days before my son
went away, he told me of your hopes with re
gard to the mill. He said that you had learned
the business thoroughly, and that in less than
two weeks your probation would be up, and you
will be the heaviest stockholder and virtually
owner of the mills. You are acquainted with
all the facts. Can you not prove to people that
my son's intentions were good } He may have
been unfortunate in some of his undertakings,
but he certainly was not dishonest."
Chamberlain remained silent. There was now
no doubt in his mind as to the rascality of the
son, but he could not say so to the trusting
mother. He could not shake her confidence in
DOWN THE RIVER. 373
her "boy," so he agreed to do all he consci-
entiously could to keep people from maligning
him. Even as he talked with her the probable
effect upon the business, of the sudden flight
of the agent, would obtrude itself. The works
were fortunately shut down for a week's repair-
ing. Before they started again, all must be
straight. The sensation of a new and heavy
weight of responsibility settled over Chamber-
lain. He knew that the agent was a man of
ability, and had managed the affairs of the
company so that they had prospered. He had
sometime expected to see to many things in
Lamson's province, and naturally wished for a
longer training in that particular line. He was
aware that a carefully systematized business,
with competent clerks, will run itself for awhile,
in the absence of the head, but he also knew
that it was unsafe.
The sweet-faced mother of the agent rose to
go, as she saw the young man so deeply
engrossed with his thoughts. She trembled as
she crossed the threshold, and Chamberlain,
stirred by the sight, caught his hat, and insisted
upon accompanying her home. On the way she
was cheery and chatty, although with a shade
of sadness in her voice that could not be en-
tirely dispelled When they reached her home,
374 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
alleging business engagements, he excused him-
self from coming in. She held out her hand,
and, keeping his, said with tears in her eyes, —
" Will you pray for my boy ? "
Pray for Lamson ! Chamberlain was startled.
It had never occurred to his mind that he
might pray for him. And then like a blow
came the recognition of his own lack of faith.
Pray for him ! Certainly, and he felt rebuked
that when he had discovered his dishonesty, he
had not asked the Lord to soften his hard
heart, and give him true repentance.
"I will, Mrs. Lamson, pray for your son, that
God may forgive and save him from sin.*'
TAM'S TEMPTATION. 375
Y^inj's • Y<2^rr)pf <af 101).
JT was August. Torrid, dusty Steep Street
sweltered under the burning sun The
''Arabs" spent most of their time in the river.
It was almost too hot to go to Sunday-school,
and for a while the mission languished. Business
at the file-works was none the less pressing,
and the men worked away steadily, suffering less
inconvenience from the heat than did the ham-
mock idlers in the town above. Among the
changes that had come to the mill settlement,
was one that was a great surprise. It was the
appearance of Tam McDonald. He came quietly,
as if he had been gone but a week, and the
village folk received him with few manifestations
of surprise. At the east end of the File Com-
pany's domains, was a large old-fashioned house,
where lived a man who was half gardener and
half farmer. Among his other possessions were
376 ffIS OPPORTUNITY.
twenty head of cattle During the life of Rob-
ert Flint this man had been a favorite, and
was allowed many privileges. Among others he
fitted up an extra building that adjoined the
*' packing-room/* for a barn. When Lamson
came into power, he tried in many ways to dis-
lodge this man, as for some reason he had a
most decided grudge against him. Finding that he
could neither buy him out nor scare him away,
he built a high fence between bis barn and the
With this man Tam took up his abode. The
exposure to which the little Scotchman had sub-
jected himself during his term of hermitage,
left him with a hard, dry cough. Chamberlain,
who had grown to have a strong liking for
the strange man, was troubled about this
cough, and finally persuaded Tam to allow the
doctor to examine his throat. The physician
prescribed a mild tonic, and furnished the first
instalment himself in the shape of a bottle of
old cider. Tam at first demurred, but when he
considered the small amount prescribed, he con-
cluded that his fears were groundless, and took
it as ordered.
The first bottle was finished, and the racking
cough had grown less frequent. The farmer, in
whose ample kitchen he had a place, seeing
TAM'S TFMPTATION. 177
how much he was improved, persuaded him to
taste of his old cider, and ere long, it was the
regular thing to have a drink each evening out
of the brown pitcher.
The jolly, bluff farmer had been a former
friend and fellow-workman of Tam's and promised
him that whatever happened, Lamson should
never again have a chance to send him to an
asylum. Tam, with his old pertinacity, believed
that his disfigurement was due to the agent's
hate, and avoided the latter accordingly. There
was no need of his caution, however, for the
lawyer made no attempt to trouble him. He
therefore remained, doing odd jobs in the garden
and on the farm, and taking long tramps, occa-
sionally disappearing for three or four days at a
One evening, when the farmer's family had
retired, Tam sat in the great kitchen, getting
his mind calmed for the night's sleep. After
moving about uneasily for a while, he found that
he was very thirsty. As usual, of late, he went
to the brown pitcher. It was empty. The pump
was near by, but he scarcely thought of it.
Cider seemed the only possible thirst-quenct er.
His thirst increased. The parched throat called
for one drink and would have it. His dark eyes
burned with the strength of his desire. Dimly
37^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
conscious that this was an awakening of the old
appetite, he tried to fasten his mind on some
Scripture thought, and failed. At length, seizing
the pitcher, he started for the barn.
Fully aware of what he was doing, for the
same temptation he had felt in former years,
he hurried through the yard, skirted the fence,
swiftly crossed an open patch of moonlight,
which was in full view of the farmer's bedroom
window, and in the shadow of the huge barn
made his way toward the door next the cider-
room. It was locked. The three doors on the
other side wore also locked. There was yet an-
other way to be tried, — the barn cellar, which
was always open, and from it he could reach
the cider-room. With the perseverance of mad-
ness, wholly under the control of his appetite,
Tam entered the thick darkness of the barn cel-
lar. His remarkable memory for places led him
directly to the steep stairs, and then up into
the barn. As he raised his head above the
floor, all the noisy silence of a room, containing
twenty head of cattle and several horses, burst
upon his ear. He climbed over a plow and the
shafts of a hay- wagon and stood in the middle
of the floor. The moon shone in through the
line of window-panes, above the great doors, par*
tially lighting the large enclosure. On one side,
TAM'S TEMPTATION. 379
the palisades of hay reached from floor to
rafters; on the other, the shelving mass
overhung ' the long row of ruminants, whose
heavy breathing, uneasy movements, and chew'-ng,
warned him of their position.
The cider-room was on the other side of the
cattle. Standing as closely as they did, he
knew that it would be somewhat difficult to
pass between them, even in daylight, unless he
happened to hit the passage used by the farmer.
His memory, however, again served him, and he
remembered that next to the passage was the
loft-ladder. This found, he secured a hay-fork,
and explored the space ahead and on both sides.
Finding the exact position of the cross cow on
one side, and the nervous heifer on the other,
he went on, crossed the dangerous place in
safety, and reached the cider-room. Having seen
the farmer draw the coveted beverage, he was
familiar with the place and cask.
Filling his pitcher, he turned to go back.
On reaching the little square window opposite
the passage, he saw on the floor something
white, perhaps a handkerchief. He stooped to
p'ck it up, then jumped suddenly back, spilling
half of the cider, for he had seized a hind foot of
the nervous heifer, and narrowly escaped receiving
a vicious kick. Feeling the wall for some distance
3^0 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
further, he discovered a hoe, with which he per
suaded the heifer and cross cow to stand far
enough apart to allow him to pass. This they
did, after several angry kicks into empty air,
and Tarn went through unharmed. Carefully
carrying the precious pitcher, he again climbed
over the shafts of the hay-wagon, passed the
plow, and went down the stairs into the cellar.
The door at the further end was the only open-
ing in the whole vast apartment. Through it
streamed a flood of light. Sitting on the lower
stair, with the one fierce idea still holding his
mind in thrall, he raised the pitcher to his lips.
He was about to gratify his thirst. It was
right for him to do this, he argued, for
had not the doctor ordered it.-^ There was
a nervous, frantic joy in the thought that
in an instant he would satisfy the clamoring
He raised the pitcher and then lowered 'it
without tasting. The thought of what he was
really about to do, swept over him with a force
that made him reel as if he had received a
blow. . He was about to drink, and, as he ac-
knowledged to himself, not a little, but again
and again, till he lay in one of the old, sense*
less stupors. Hey a man redeemed from drink
by the power of God, was again courting the
TAM'S TEMPTATION'. 38 1
drunkard's curse. With a mighty prayer, " O
Loord, help ! " he set the pitcher down, too
weak to pour it away, too strong to yield to
his desire. Praying with all his might, keeping
his hands resolutely away from the accursed
stuff, Tarn slowly gained strength, and finally,
with a great effort, reached out his foot and
kicked the pitcher over, although it almost broke
his heart to do so. Once settled, he felt bet-
ter. The tempter vanquished, fled, and Tarn,
trembling at his narrow escape, sat rejoicing and
weeping. For some time he staid on the lower
stair, musing on his temptation. Occasionally he
murmured, — *'0 Loord, help me!" and each time
received new strength. In long review passed the
incidents of his life. He recalled his many follies,
and remembered how often, when he was delib-
erately planning sin, the Lord had made it
impossible by removing the opportunity. Close
by was the factory, — so close that he could hear
the sighing of the exhaust-pipes on the boilers.
So near the places in which so large a portion
of Lis life had been passed, it was not wonder-
ful that be sat and listened and forgot the
barn fu^^ of ruminants, and remembered only
the ev*=',r-prcsent noises of the mill. How many
times /lad he wandered away from the Lord
whcF a that mill, and how many times he had
3^2 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
been lovingly brought back ! In his humiliation,
he acknowledged that the punishment received
in Boiler Number Six was just.
Kneeling reverently, he prayed long and earn-
estly. Not aloud, as he had when sure that he was
alone in the deserted mill-yard, but in broken whis-
pers and with choking sobs. Poor Tam! Al-
most broken-hearted, he did not know that his
temptation was to be the means of saving an-
other. Rising from his knees and turning
toward the doorway, he saw, with a thrill of
surprise, the figure of a man, looking eagerly
back over the lighted fields.
The moon shone full upon him, showing him
to be vigorous, well-built and muscular, while
the slouching, dogged, nameless air bespoke the
rough. After surveying the landscape to his
satisfaction, he stepped within the door, out of
the light, and was lost to view in the black-
ness that filled the cellar. Up to this moment
Tam had not moved, but now, with instinctive
caution, he stepped quietly back, behind the
stairs, and waited the turn of events. He had
hardly done so, when a noise and a smothered
oath, not two feet in front of him, made his
heart leap to his mouth. The stranger had run
mto the stairs. The shrill voice of a startled
rooster brought another invective, and as the
TAM'S TEMPTATION. 3^3
unknown crept quietly up the stairs, his arrival
at the plow was made known by still another
unhallowed expression. Determined to know
what the visitor wanted, Tarn softly followed
him. As he raised his head above the level oi
the barn-floor, he saw the dim outline of the
plow just in front of him, and, further off, the
faint silhouette of the hay-wagon. The silver
ladder of moonlight that lay on the floor half
an hour before was gone, the cattle were
quieter, the man was nowhere to be seen. He
listened intently, but heard no sound like a
human footfall, nor was he directed by any more
profane signals. He had a feeling that the man,
or tramp, was, as he had been, in search of
cider, so he turned his attention to the well-
remembered passage between the cross cow and
the heifer. There seemed to be no movement
in that direction, and, tired of waiting, he had
just gained the barn-floor and softly climbed
over the plow, when he heard, close by him,
the familiar oath. For a moment he supposed
that he was discovered, but a little delay showed
that he was not. The stranger had caught his
foot in the shafts of the hay-wagon and had
almost fallen. It was easier to follow him now,
as he moved around, for the loose litter on the
floor rustled under his feet. Instead of at-
384 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
tempting to reach the cider-room, the intruder
went in the opposite direction, down to the
farther end of the long barn. Here he paused
some moments, and listened intently ; then, with
increased caution, unhasped the door at that end
of the building, and partly opened it. Retracing
his steps, he passed his unsuspected follower,
and went on till he reached the centre of the
barn-floor. Here he paused, and, with consider-
able noise, began to collect the litter into a
pile. " To make a bed," his observer thought,
with some surprise. A moment later, however,
he saw his mistake, for the tramp, stooping low
over the pile, lit a match, and held it closely
in his hollow palm till it should be fairly ig-
nited. By the light of that match, Tam read the
purpose of the stranger. He was preparing to
fire the barn ! Half a minute's delay might be
fatal. The little pile of inflammable material,
placed near the overhanging mow, would, in three
minutes, settle the fate of the barn, and then
of the mill-buildings. Scarcely stopping to
think, the impulsive Scotchman sprang forward,
struck the shielding hands together, extinguish-
h.g the match, and in an instant more was roll-
ing in desperate combat with the incendiary.
Neither uttered a cry; both put forth all of
the strength they possessed. Back and forth over
TAM'S TEMPTATION. 3^5
the floor they rolled, startling the cows from
their contented reclining, as they came almost
under their horns, and then bumping up against
the mows on the other side. The man was natur-
ally strong, but had not the skill or suppleness
of his wiry antagonist, and finally relaxed his
struggles, and lay still.
Knowing that he could not rely upon any
such forced condition as a signal of defeat, the
excited Scotchman suddenly seized the two wrists
of his antagonist and crossed them quickly over
his back ; he thus had him at his mercy. Hold-
ing him in this manner, he raised him to his
feet, and pushed him out through the open door,
guided him around the barn into the large yard;
through this to the door, past the growling
watch-dog, and into the large, old-fashioned
kitchen, where the light was still burning. Here
he released him. Looking eagerly into his face,
Tam saw John Temple. The incendiary recog-
nized the half-insane stranger — one of the file-
workers. The deep-toned oath that he uttered
showed his utter astonishment. In another in
stant his face was livid with passion.
" Curse you ! Curse you ! " he said. " There 's
one way I 'd like to settle with you."
"Can ye tal rae one thing that I have done
to harm you?"
386 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"Aye, that I can. This affair to-night will be
the ruin of me. If I had known it was you
that was wrestling with me, I would have killed
you ! Where did you get your strength } "
The speaker looked over, in his great anger,
at the puny, wizened figure, in amazement that
he had been able to conquer him.
"The Loord gave me strength," said Tam.
" If you are going to talk that way, I 'm
going," said Temple.
" You '11 stay where ye are, mon," said Tam,
decisively. "We canna' rastle here as we did
in the barn without waking the man of the house.
You'd best stay where ye be."
"What do you want of me?" asked Temple,
"I wish to know what grudge you hold against
the owner of this farm, that ye were trying to
fire his barn } "
"I had no grudge against him. It is with
Lamson that I am angry. He knew when I was
upon my last 'bat,' and he offered me a job
nights ; but I did n't want to take it. Then he
refused to pay me the money that was my due
on an old debt between me and him. I did n't
care for it when I was sober, but when a fel-
low gets full, he needs more money to keep
rAAf'S TEMPTATION. 3^7
"And why did you tiy to set fire to the
"To get revenge on the agent. If that barn
burned, the packing-room would go, and the office,
and lots of other buildings. The fire would get
right into the midst of a nest of wooden build-
ings, and Lamson would be ruined. I tell you,
I hate him ! More than any one else, has he
been the cause of my ruin. Any time I would
risk my life to injure him."
"Do you think burning the mill would hurt
Lamson } "
"Well, it wouldn't. Lamson has little or no
interest there. Instead of hurting him it would
hurt one whom, if you have a spark of man-
hood left, you still love."
" Who } "
" Thomas Chamberlain."
Temple bowed his head and thought for an
instant, then he said, —
" I don't see how it would hurt him, but it
does n't signify much. I would do any thing to
help Chamberlain. It is on his account that I
have kept out of sight."
" He would give any thing to sec you, lad,"
said Tam, tenderly.
"He never shall!" was the fierce reply. "Have
5^^ HIS OPPORTUNITY,
I not disgraced him enough ? Don't tell me !
He hates the very thought of me, and I don't
"Tell me how you come to fall so suddenly.'*
" No ! no ! It 's too hard and cruel a story. I
was so near, — I felt so thankful. The appetite
that had held me, I felt I was able to conquer,
till I tasted the wine^ then I was crazy ! I could
think of nothing else. The days right after my
fall are blotted out. I went on a terrible spree.
Just as things were running so nicely — just
as the store was beginning to prosper a little.
Oh, Tam ! Tam ! if you only knew the hell
that I live in when I think that what I did is
probably keeping many in the mill back from
" Thank the Loord that ye can feel so ! Did
ye know that the North Church use no more
alcoholic wine at the Communion?"
" No ! Is that so ? I 'm glad of it. Perhaps
so'.nc poor fellow like me, with that means for
p help, may be able to pull through."
"They are holdin* prayer-meetings for you, so
" Why do you tell me such things ? It is like
telling a lost soul of the salvation he has for-
feited I Why do you torture me } "
** If I believed you lost, I would na' sa^ i
TAAPS TEMPTATION, 389
word ; but I know that you are not. As sure
as there is a Saviour for me, you, John Temple,
may yet be saved.'*
" It is too late, I tell you ! No man can have
sinned as I have. There is no hope ! '*
Tam's voice was as calm 'and steady as ever.
"There is salvation, and you know it. Now,
why not drop your pride, and accept it } "
** Pride ! Where is the pride ? I am willing
to do any thing!"
"Are you willing to kneel, and ask God now?"
" It would be mockery."
"Cannot God see into your heart.? Does he
not know that you do not mock ? Put down
your pride, now, and lay hold on salvation."
" You can not comprehend my appetite, — my
weakness, — the helplessness of my struggle "
" Listen, mon," replied Tam, intensely. " Do
ye ken why / was in the barn when I foun'
you ? It was to get a pitcher of hard cider to
quench the thirst that I have so many times
promised the Loord never again to indulge. I
was there to get drunk ! I was saved from it.
Noo, by the Loord's help, you can be saved
from going farther in the wrong. We are both
terrible sinners, but I have faith to believe that
there is help for us. Let us, then, lay hold on
390 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
Temple's face lost its look of deep despair.
Under the light, the haggard, hollow lines showed
plainly. His spree had taken years out of his
"Can there be hope?"
** * Whosoever will, let him come and take of
the water of life freely.' That is the only thing
in this world that can quench a thirst such as
we have. Noo, brother, we have sinned. Only
God Almighty knows the depth of our wicked-
ness. We can not hope to do the good that
we might, had we always lived pure and good
lives, as many have ; but we can perhaps save
one. Let us kneel and ask God to help us."
" I can't go back. Tarn," he moaned. " I can't
go back and fail again. Oh, why didn't I go to
the river, as I planned, and end it all } "
" Will you allow the men in the mill to say,
as they do, that the power of the Loord Jesus
Christ is not equal to any case of rum-drinking?
He wants you for a witness. If you trust in
Him, there can be no failure. Will you do
Putting his arm about him, the little Scotch-
man drew the form of the half-crazy incendiary
down beside him, and prayed. Oh. that won-
derful, melting prayer I It melted the heart of
TAM'S TRMPTATIOI^. 391
the listener till he sobbed like a child. Broken,
contrite, he poured forth a petition of his own.
Then were the heavens opened, and the rain of
peace descended on his soul. He rose, sane,
sober, redeemed from the bonds of appetite ;
willing to take up his heavy cross and appear
again before the world.
392 HIS OP/*ORTUNITY.
iT/p. . W r)ifr)eY s • Tf roposal.
[HE afternoon sun slanting in through the
staring windows of the factory buildings,
shone full on Chamberlain's back, making him
even more uncomfortable than did the heat of
the room. He was dead in earnest and was
not cognizant of what was going on near him,
till a pleasant, cultured voice said, —
"Is this Mr. Chamberlain?"
Glancing up, he saw Mr. Whitney regarding
him with an expression that was far from
"Yes, sir," he replied.
"I have been looking for you, but fear I
should not have succeeded in finding you, had
I not been directed by the men. Are you at
leisure for a few minutes.?"
Leading the way to a part of the room that
was less noisy and not quite as hot, Chamber-
MR, WHITNEY'S PROPOSAL. 393
lain seated himself on a bench by the side of
his visitor, and waited for him to open the
conversation. After speaking of the weather and
general topics, he said, —
"I never have had the pleasure of greeting
you before, Mr. Chamberlain, although I have
often seen you. My life arftong business men
has led me to decide quickly as to a man's
capacity or attainments. I must say, that it has
been a surprise to me, that you were here in
these works among the lowest class of laborers.
You must know that you are fitted for some-
thing better. Are you anxious to leave this
place } "
Chamberlain hesitated, for he at once guessed
the kindly errand upon which the gentleman
came. His questioner was Miriam's father. It
would be a most awkward thing for him to re-
fuse aid, or to accept it. How could he
"The surroundings are not as pleasant as
I could wish, yet I think my duty bids me
stay here," was his answer.
Mr. Whitney pondered. At length, he said, —
"Mr. Chamberlain, I wish that I could in
some way serve you. There are numbers of
young men from Steelville, for whom I have
been instrumental in securing good positions in
594 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
the city. My business relations are large. I en-
joy giving a young man, who is worthy, a lift.
Is there any thing that I can do.?'*
There was a sincerity in the tone that couli
not be doubted. Chamberlain wished that he
were in a position to be helped, but there was
no need of personal assistance.
"There is abundant opportunity for any help
that Christians can offer, in the line in which
I am working," replied he.
His caller made no reply, asked no question.
Possibly he did not understand the allusion to
tjie mission work. There was a moment of
silence, during which each was busy with his
own thoughts. The young man, in some per-
plexity, wondered at the proud man's coming to
see him, when he had so lately opposed him in
the debate at the church meeting. Could he
have looked into the other's heart, he would
have seen that, while he was keen and quick
m any business matter, and lordly in his bear-
ing, there was at the same time an absence of
vanity that was admirable.
Mr. Whitney was in many respects a remark-
able man. Very pronounced in his conclusions,
full of the quickest insight into practical matters,
he had the raxe quality of bearing no enmity
toward those who opposed his opinions. He was
MR. WHITNEY'S PROPOSAL. 395
possessed of a shrewd, business-like charity,
that was as sweet and wholesome as it was
original. People often misunderstood him. They
thought him proud while, in truth, he thought
of himself but rarely. They called him close,
— "snug," the countrymen termed it, — because
he refused to pay more than an article was
worth, yet he gave largely to various chari-
ties, and had done more for the young men of
the place and vicinity, than any other man of
A rich man's son, of great natural ability, he
lad been successful in whatever he undertook,
ind this fact was, possibly, the chief grievance
hat his neighbors had against him. He had
leen brought up to use wine, and without in-
vestigation believed it to be right. Very rarely
vas he befogged by it as Chamberlain had seen
lim, and fie doubtless tried to think that he
vas only a trifle excited.
"Is there no way in which I can help you?"
'le asked. "We have a situation in our count-
'ng-house, that I should be glad to see you fill.
It would put you among people of your own
kind, and give you an excellent opportunity to
improve. You should be where you can grow.
You certainly are not satisfied with your progress
39^ HIS OPPORTUNITY,
"No, sir, I am not," was the honest answer.
"But if I went away, what help should I be to
Steep Street? It is my ambition to see liquor
selling and liquor-drinking entirely banished from
this settlement. I wish to see, instead of the
drunken, brawling, Sabbath-breaking workman, a
peaceable, honest, temperate man, who will serve
the Lord instead of the Devil."
"That is a most commendable ambition," said
Mr. Whitney, approvingly, "but one, I fear, that
cannot be realized. Now, I take it, that it is
for the interest of the manufacturer to keep the
help down. That is one reason I should never
wish to be a mill-owner. There can be no
money made where the help have every thing at
their command. A drinking man will work for
less wages than a sober man. He is more under
the thumb of his employer. While this is so,
there will be no reform in the file-works, at
least while Lamson is at the head of it."
Surprised at this view of the question. Cham-
berlain stopped and thought for a moment.
"There is 4ruth in what you say," he replied,
**and yet, I cannot see that it is an advantage
to the mill-owner to employ degraded help.
More work is spoiled by the drunkards in the
mill in a year, than would suffice to pay thera
half a dollar a day more for wages. The last fire,
MR. WHITNEY'S PROPOSAL. 397
that cost nearly ten thousand dollars, was the
result of a spree."
*'I have not studied the question with any
great care, as I am not specially interested in
it, but to my knowledge, the little tumble-down
mills, knee-deep in dirt, in which work a set
who are as bad, if not worse than the file-men,
pay the best dividends, while the handsomely
furnished mills with the neat tenements and
nicely tilled gardens and genteel help pay the
smallest. While this is so, the money-makers
will fight all reform."
"For nearly two years I have studied this
subject, having been daily among the men, and
I am convinced that your deductions are
wrong," was the respectful answer. *'Let us
look at it from a business standpoint. One family
of drinkers use, say, fifty cents* worth of liquor
a day, and that is a small estimate. In a year
they would consume one hundred and eighty-
seven dollars and fifty cents* worth. Three hun-
dred such families would be fifty-six thousancf,
two hundred and fifty dollars a year. Now, that
is what Steep Street pays for liquor. It is, of
course, a damage. It neither feeds nor clothes
the operatives. It renders them unfit for work ;
after a drunk the work is slighted in a man-
ner that an outsider would hardly credit. The
39^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
mill pays out that money for the hands to throw
away, and then is obliged to pay them for food,
clothing, and all the costs of living besides.
IIow does that help the dividends?"
"To tell the truth, I have only repeated what
some mill-owners have told me," was the reply.
" I am not specially interested in the subject,
yet I should think that a sober man, who saves
his money, would be more independent, and
more likely to leave, under a forced reduction of
wages, than the improvident, hand-to-mouth sort,"
" The men who leave suddenly, unreasonably,
when the work is going to rack and ruin for
need of their help, are the drinkers," returned
Chamberlain. "If they have no money, no credit,
no hope for future employment, they plunge
ahead, when a sober man would be thoughtful
and prudent. Your friends argue that they dare
not leave, being drunkards, because they can get
work nowhere else ; but do they find the hard
drinkers very loth to go to the poor-house ?
And are not the mills, in their taxes, obliged
to support a set of thriftless, useless creatures,
that otherwise would be self-supporting > "
"Do you believe, Mr. Chamberlain, that the
file-works would be benefited if they constructed
new tenements, stopped the sale of liquor, and
hired only sober men ? "
AfR. WHITNEY'S PROPOSAL. 399
"I am sure of it. My experience has shown
that the di inkers are continually damaging work,
stopping important jobs, and making themselves
most unreliable just when they are most needed.
And there is another way to look at this mat-
ter. No Christian has, I believe, a right to
tolerate any evil among his help, that he can
in any manner remove. A follower of Christ,
who hires drunkards because they are cheap,
puts a premium on sin and disgraces his pro-
fession. An employer should feel great respon-
sibility concerning his help. If the bosses of
the mills only took an interest in the young
men, and aided them in doing right, and re-
moved opportunities for doing wrong, there
would be a change in the laboring classes that
would make the whole nation smile with pros-
perity and peace."
"You are eloquent," laughed the other.
"I am in earnest. There are in the works
men fiom all parts of the country, who have
worked in most of the large mills, — not alone
file workers, but in cotton, rubber, woolen and
other manufactories and foundries. I have fre-
quently questioned them about things in those
places, and find that the works here are a fair
average of what may be found throughout the
Union. People of the better class, even if they
40O HIS OPPORTUNITY.
saw it with their own eyes, would contradict it,
because they cannot see, as do those who are
inside of the lines."
** Really, I am getting interested. Do you in«
tend, single-handed, to combat this state of affairs t "
"I intend," answered Chamberlain, slowly,
"one day to be a manufacturer. My mill shall
be run carefully, frugally. Every man shall be
required to do his duty if he can do it. No
drunkard shall find lodgment within the g^tes
of the mill-yard, and no drop of liquor shall be
brought into the mill settlement. As far as
feasible, I shall know what my men do even-
ings, and shall give them plenty of opportunity
to indulge in pleasant and , profitable amuse-
ments. The whole place shall be run in the
fear of the Lord."
"Do you think it practicable?"
"I believe that the fear of the Lord is the
beginning of all wisdom, whether it be running
a mill or a Sunday-school."
"So do I," assented Mr. Whitney. "By the
way," continued he, "you have not yet told me
what I can do to help you out in this } "
Then came the moment of trial. Rather would
he have been silent; but a voice within him
gave him no choice but to obey, so te said
MR. WHITNEY'S PROPOSAL, 4OI
" Mr. Whitney, I staid last night with a man
who has been a very hard drinker, and who was
hurt in the mill. For some time he has been
willing to lead a better life. He hates the
thought of * giving up his liberty' — as he terms
it. Even on the verge of delirium-tremens he
will urge that the aristocrats have their wine,
and why should not he have an equal liberty
"But he should know that he cannot control
" Exactly ; but such men reason queerly. He
says, when I plead with him, that when a cer-
tain man in the upper town is willing to give
up his wine, he will leave off drinking, and not
" Who is the wine-drinker ? "
"Mr. Whitney," said Chamberlain, growing a trifle
pale; "the man who is going to destruction, for
the sake of this whim, is Swinert, the drunkard ;
and the gentleman, whom he daily quotes and
glories over as being a moderate drinker, and
able to hold his own, and stay in the church,
to serve the Lord and drink fine wiuies at the
same time, — is yourseli"
403 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
^^'BT *s a mighty good man whose place can't be
^ filled by somebody," Gaffney remarked, as
one after another of his friends had dropped
into the little bed-room, and told him of Lam-
son's flight, and the uneasy feeling that pervaded
in the village.
Among those who most enjoyed Lamson's ab-
sence, and hoped it might be indefinitely pro-
longed, was Chamberlain. He was at once sorry
and glad, for he looked ahead of the avalanche
of cares with no little anxiety. After the flight,
he had received a call from another lawyer of
the town, who announced himself as one of the
gentlemen who were to assure themselves that
Chamberlain's part of the contract was carried
out. He was pleased at this, as he could not
but worry a little over his approachnig trial,
when he knew that the one to whom in par-
BREAKING THE RING. 4^3
ticular his uncle had entrusted the management
of the plan had so signally failed in his duty.
Several days after this, Chamberlain was walk-
ing rapidly away from the hamlet toward the
distant hills. It was the last day of his trial
as laborer. Suddenly he heard his name called.
He had reached a considerable elevation where
he could look back, even on Steep Street. For
an instant he was puzzled to know from what
direction the voice came ; it had a familiar sound
that made his heart leap with joy. How well
be had learned the varied music of that voice I
Scanning the roadside with rapid glance, he saw
beneath the bending branches of an apple-tree
that had managed to live its whole life outside
of the civilized restraints of stone walls, a pony
phaeto*^; in it sat Miss Whitney. Her black
horse was contentedly eating the leaves from the
tree, and switching flies at the same time.
" I am afraid I did wrong in speaking, you
looked so preoccupied ; but I wished so much
to tell you some good news," she said, with a
" I am very glad you did speak ; and good news is
always welcome," replied Chamberlain, coming un
der the canopy of leaves.
"Do yDu remember — of course you do — that
queer Swinert, whom you wished some of the
404 HIS OPPORTUmTY.
teachers in the misMon-school, myself among the
number, to call upon ? *'
"He said that he would give up his liquor
when my father gave up wine. Father, at first,
after you told him of it, was quite disturbed.
He thought the man insufferably impudent, and
I doubt not, still thinks so ; but he reasoned
with himself about it, and what do you think
"I guess "
"Don't guess, I wish to tell you. After some
little debating with himself, like the grandly up-
right man that he is, he wrote Swinert, telling
him that if his drinking wine caused him to
stumble, he would never drink another drop. I
saw the letter ; it was courteous, polite, splendid.
Oh, it made me so happy ! I don't know of
another man in the world who would have been
so considerate of the feelings of that poor wretch,
whom he had never seen, as my dear, old
father. I am proud of him."
"That is indeed glorious news. Now, if Swin-
ert will only keep to his promise, your father
will have the satisfaction of knowing that he has
saved at least one from a drunkard's grave."
" Swinert answered at once, signing a queer
pledge that he himself had drawn up. In it ho
BREAKING THE RING. 4^5
promised several things ; among others, to give
the mission-school, 'God bless it,' a good, solid
lift by his weekly presence,"
" I am very glad," replied Chamberlain.
*'Do you know, Mr. Chamberlain, that there
is altogether a different atmosphere in this vil-
lage than what there was before you came }
father remarked it. It should make you very
happy to feel that you can do so much good
among the workmen."
"As I look back over the two years spent
here, I am filled with wonder. Certainly, God
uses any willing instrument. I have prayed and
struggled in a poor way, and he has given his
blessing. But the prayers of Pastor Snow, and
your Aunt Whittier, were not unheard. It seems
to me, as I think of it, that one who doubts
the efficacy of prayer, after having seen what it
has accomplished in Steep Street, must indeed
be blind '
" You are right. I would that I had more
faith. I believe I see a work opening among
my boys that leads me to covet power in
pra)er. I cannot tell you, Mr. Chamberlain,
how much happier I am since I have tried to
do a little for the factory people. Why, before
I knew them, I actually despised them. I ara
sorry and ashamed that I ever entertained such
406 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
feelings, but I think it was the prejudice arising
" The future of Steep Street depends on the
people of the upper settlement and the owners
of the file-works," said Chamberlain.
"And Sam Putnam."
"Yes. There is another signal answer to our
prayers, — the conversion of Putnam. His in-
fluence with the men is unbounded. There is
little doubt, so I hear, that the engine company-
will really become a temperance organization."
Chamberlain stood for an instant in silence,
looking into the fair face before him. He saw
reflected in it his own enthusiasm, and, as the
brown eyes fell beneath his gaze, he hoped he
read something more.
" Could man or woman have a grander life-
work than raising such a village as this from
its sin and ignorance into the marvelous light
of the Gospel.?" asked Chamberlain.
" I think not," was the low reply.
"And even though a man labor with his
hands, when he is striving to win souls, it does
not degrade him?" said he, with tremulous
" Saint Paul was a tent-maker, and a greater
than he, — the Lord, — was a carpenter," was the
BREAKING THE RING. 4^7
Chamberlain reached over the wheel and
clasped the little hand that fluttered for an in-
stant, and then lay still in his firm clasp.
" Can we not join hands for life in this
work ? " he said.
The brown eyes were raised to his face with
a grave, earnest expression, as she said, simply
and without a falter, —
He drew from his watch-chain the curiously-
chased ring, so worn that it was but a shell of
gold, and crushing it between his strong fin-
gers, broke one side, leaving the band in one
"It is an old, perhaps a forgotten custom,"
he said, holding it out to Miriam.
She understood, and with the same sweet
gravity broke with him the ring, retaining half
as a seal of betrothal. Tenderly, almost rever-
ently, he kissed the red lips, thanking God in
his heart for his present overflowing happiness.
As the sun was already setting. Chamberlain
walked as far as the village by the side of the
phaeton, and then, with a pressure of the hand
and a look eloquent with true affection, took
leave, to finish his walk. It seemed as if he
had reached the climax of his life. Happy that
Steep Street already was showing signs of spir-
408 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
itual life; that no rum-shop flourished there;
that the people were bountifully supplied with
pure water ; that Temple had returned and pro-
claimed his intention of serving the Lord ; that
Sam Putnam and Gaffney were henceforth to be
true soldiers of the Cross, — happy in all this,
he felt that the only other thing that he could
ask, — the love of Miriam Whitney, — had been
granted him. With great thankfulness, he knelt
in a nook by the roadside and prayed earnestly.
Then he rose and walked on toward this new
life, determined, with God's help, when he was
''village king," to be, also, His village laborer.
A LESSON IN CHEMISTRY, 409
c/T. • LSessor) • ir) • fe<l)err)isf j»v.
T was raining. A genuine north-easterly storm,
that for twenty-four hours had threatened and
lowered, at last in good earnest was fulfilling its
menace. Cold as the spray of the ocean, driv-
ing in slanting lines over sodden fields, "lodging"
acres of heavy grass, beating off leaves not yet
yellow, soaking every thing, till fences, tree-trunks,
and even stone walls took on a water-logged ap-
pearance ; — it was the typical "three-days' rain"
of New England. Along a country road, splash-
ing through the many puddles, came a traveler.
lie was to all appearance a laborer, on his way
from one village to another in search of work.
Over his shoulder he carried a stout stick, which
was thrust through the handles of a small,
shabby valise. The uncomfortable weather appar-
ently had its effect upon the lonely pedestrian,
for an ugly scowl was on his face. From time
to time he looked about for a farm-house or
4XO HIS OPPORTUNITY.
barn that could afford shelter, but without suc-
cess. As he journeyed, night fell, and still the
long reaches of woodland, the ill-kept mowing
lands, and the alder-circled meadows stretched
out as if there were naught else in the world.
Wet to the skin, and chilled to the bone, he
plodded stolidly on ; more and more discouraged
at not finding a habitation of some sort. At
length, far away across the fields, he descried a
solitary light. Thinking it would proffer a warm
supper and a bed, he eagerly turned toward it.
A " short cut " in the night, across uneven
fields, hedge-bound and half-cleared, means hard
work. The uncertain light hides the hollows, re-
duces distances, and leads one into sudden, dis-
locating steps, that are painful if not danger-
ous. When the light was reached, the traveler
was not a little surprised to find himself on the
borders of a great salt-marsh, and facing a num-
ber of brick buildings enclosed by a high fence.
What kind of manufactory it was, so far from
human habitation, with no clustering tenement-
houses, with a weed-grown cart-path leading to
it from the distant road, he could not imagine.
Yet it promised shelter, and on the whole, per-
haps, the fact of its strange isolation might make
the watchman the more accessible and ready to
entertain a wayfarer. As he drew nearer, a pe-
A LESSON IN CHEMISTRY. 4^1
>— — ' — — — — —
culiar odor was discernible, that he remembered
before to have known, but where his weary mem-
01 y could not recall. At the gate he knocked
loudly with the end of his heavy stick, and
awaited answer. None came, and again he knocked.
The light shone calmly from within, yet there
was no sign of life; and it looked as if he must,
after all, be disappointed, and spend the night in
the lee of the fence, when, in response to a third
attack with the cane, that filled the empty yard
with echoes, a wicket opened,' and a thin voice
" Can you give me a bed t I am wet through,
and not able to go a step farther ! "
"Who be yer.?" was the suspicious query.
"My name is Lam — " began the tired trav-
eler, but stopped as if influenced by a sudden
thought, with a look that might mean self-accu-
sation of great stupidity.
"Wal, Mr. Lamb, you may be all right, or
you may be all wrong; I don't know. You kin
come in," said the voice, and the side gate swung
The other accepted the invitation with alacrity,
and entered the yard, the gate closing after him
with a vigorous thud. While he stood looking
around to see with whom he had been speaking,
412 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
the door of a low, brick building opened, a faint
light streamed out, and the same voice bade him
enter. He did so, but had hardly crossed the
threshold when he recoiled, a real terror impressed
upon his features. Before him stood a man, clad
in a red flannel shirt and canvas trousers, his
scrawny, skeleton-like arms bare to the shoulder,
the veins swelling and bulging in a horrid net-
work that the absence of flesh made the more
apparent. The great hands — one resting on his
hip, the other holding a lamp — were nailless.
His face and head were without hair; his huge
mouth toothless. An unhealthy complexion, inde-
scribable in its color, and a pair of prominent
eyes that seemed straining to get out of their
feverish sockets, completed the make-up of this
^ " You are welkim," he said.
** What kind of a place is this ? " demanded the
stranger, in a shaky voice.
"What is it smells so.?''
"The acids. Dretful onhealthy place. Guess
fou ain't used to seein* folks that work in these
places, be yer t Look kinder scared ; but, bless
ye, I ain't a sarcumstance to the old man that
was here before me. Why, when he went to
town, the women folks used to faint away, he
A LESSON IN- CHEMISTRY. 4^3
looked so skeery; but then he had begun to
"Yes. The acid had worked on him so long
that it eat him clean up. They was n*t hardly
enough of him to bury ! '*
The visitor glanced from the livid face down
to the slippered feet, from which protruded a
couple of toes, from which the nails had fallen,
"You are a-shiverin* with cold," said the other,
hospitably. "Come into the furnace-room."
The stranger followed him in, and was soon
dressed in dry clothes, and enjoying a cup of hot
cofifce made over the coals. Even the kindness of
his host did not serve to dispel the horror that
his uncanny looks inspired ; and to avoid betray-
ing his feelings, the guest kept his eyes upon
the glowing coals, and away from the grim visage.
There was, however, a fascination that drew his
gaze, again and again, back to the face, which
lost none of its frightfulness as it grew more
Besides its use as a furnace-room, the further
end of the apartment was a store-room for the
products of the works. Across a long, frail plat-
form stretched a line of glass carboys, nearly all
of which were filled with a greenish-colored liquid
414 If IS OPPORTUNITY.
Whether it was the color of the thick glass, or
not, that tinged the contents, the observer could
"There is acid enough there to bum up a
town," remarked the host, observing the look
" It 's dretful powerful. Drop most any thing in-
to that, and it will eat it clean up."
" Why do you work in such a place as this }
It is killing you. A few years hence, and you
will be in your grave. Why don't you leave .^"
broke out the visitor.
" Leave } Do you know, Mister, I git eight
dollars a day for what I do .? " was the triumph-
" Eight dollars a day ! What would a hundred
dollars a day be in comparison with what you
lose } It 's wicked ! You have no right, for a
little money, to throw away your life."
" Oh, sho ! I 've heerd folks talk afore now.
Unless a man kills himself jest in the fashionable
way, he is doing a wickedness. Why, there ain't
a third of the business men but what dies years
afore they'd oughter. And as fer killin' yersclf
fer money — that 's nothin'. It ain't to be com-
pared to crowdin' the widders and the fatherless,
or to sellin' rum for money, or stealin' from those
that trust ye."
The visitor winced, and lapsed into silence,
A LESSON TN CHEMISTRY. 4^5
looking fixedly at the uncouth bottles that held
in solution such a dangerous force.
"Be you interested in kimistry?"
*' No ; not especially."
" If you be, I kin show you some curous things
about the acid. I tell ye, it's jest like a raven-
ing beast when it gits to eatin*. I 'd like to
show ye in the mornin'."
The other expressed a languid interest, and then
inquired about his bed. With true hospitality the
watchman made him up a "shake-down" at the
further end of the furnace-room, where he could
lie with his feet toward the fire. Back of him,
in a double row, stood the long lines of carboys.
With his valise under the mattress that was
laid on the cement floor, the visitor disrobed
and was soon sound asleep. The watchman, after
attending to the fires, wandered off alone to
smoke, and a stillness, only broken by long-drawn,
bubbling sighs from the "vats," enfolded the fur-
nace-room. After an hour the stranger suddenly
woke, and starting up, felt under the mattress
for his valise. It was safe, and he sank back,
and from his couch looked keenly about for the
watchman. He was nowhere in sight, and stirred
by a second thought:, the stranger drew the valise
out and slipped it into a mammoth rubber pail
that stood in front of the carboys. A sheet of
4^6 HIS OPPORTUNITY
rubber cloth that lay on the floor was carelessly
thrown over the whole, and with a satisfied look
he returned to bed, and in a few moments was
soundly slumbering. A half hour later the watch-
man came in, stirred the fire, glanced at his
guest, and again went to his little office in the
The sleeper did not waken when the "slicer bar"
rang on the bricks, or when the slippered feet
scuffed noisily across the cemented floor. Neither
did he waken when the frail support that held
the carboys began to creak ominously and to
bend under a weight that had long been too
heavy to be borne in safety. Slowly three of
the mammoth bottles tipped forward a fraction
of an inch at a time, till the sudden snap threw
them entirely over, their long necks resting on
the stout guard that was used as a "pouring-
rail.'* After rolling and clashing one against the
other for an instant, they were still, and the
danger that had threatened the sleeper, should
their burning contents be thrown over him, ap-
peared to be arrested. The rubber stoppers held
back the liquid that leaped eagerly into the bot-
tle-mouths. The stoppers held at first, but soon
from one came a single drop of acid. Then an-
other and another, till the loosened plug gave
way, and a stream was flowing out, not upon
A LESSON IN CHEMISTRY. 4^7
the fldor, but into the rubber pail. Beating
down the cloth cover that the stranger had with
such artfulness disposed so as to conceal his
valise, it rapidly filled the vessel and then spread
out over the floor.
Untroubled by any dream of danger to himself
or his belongings, the stranger slumbered peace-
fully on. Occasionally through the night the
watchman entered, replenished the fire, and
scuffed out again. Once the traveler turned over,
partly roused, but with a deep, weary sigh dropped
back into dreamland. The chemical-works rats, —
for even this place was not free from them,
although according to the traditions of the work-
men, they lodged somewhere else, — scampered
about, and even mounted the bed, but did not
disturb the sleeper.
Outside, the rain still fell heavily, and as the
wind had risen, it was flung against the side
windows. That the sleep of the wayfarer was
not without dreams, his occasional disjointed sen-
tences and feverish breathing testified, yet none
of the sounds of the night served to impress
him with a remembrance of his surroundings.
The morning had given place to noon ere he
roused from his stupor and awaked to the fact
that it was time he was pursuing his journey^
As he dressed, the watchm,an, who seemed to
41 S HIS OPPORTUNITY.
work night and day, came in, and greeted him
with a good-natured smile that made hiin look
like a genial fiend.
" Slep' well ? " he inquired.
"Yes, very. I was thoroughly tired out. What
time is it.!*"
" Quarter-past twelve."
With an exclamation of surprise at the lateness
of the hour the stranger turned to his treasured
valise. As he saw the three carboys tipped so
far over, the one almost empty, and the rubber
pail brimming with acid, he uttered a half shriek,
half groan, and sprang toward it. But the watch-
nan, till now so obtuse, suddenly awoke and
was before him, holding him back with a terri-
fied look on his face, that made him if possible
more ugly than ever.
"Are yer crazy?" he said to the struggling
"My valise is in that pail," gasped the stranger.
"Well, I will get it; you stand back. Do you
want your hands burned off.?"
The fit of frenzy over, the other stood passively
back, and allowed the watchman to search with
a short poker through the mammoth pail for his
property. First the rubber cloth came up, black,
shiny, and dripping, not in the least injured by
the acid. Then he poked further, fished further,
A LESSOAT IN CHEMISTRY. 4^9
and at length brought up a queer skeleton frame,
with burned shreds of leather hanging to it, that
looked not at all like his property.
" That *s yer valise, all except the sides, and
yer change of clothes," remarked the man.
"But — but get out the rest. There was
money," came in a weak voice.
The watchman put the poker in again, and
poked and poked, at last bringing up a black
mass that fell upon the floor — a shapeless, use-
less bunch of pulp.
"All eat up," he said.
The stranger sank down on the bed, white and
"Look — look again!"
"No use, Mr. Lamb."
"Lamson," corrected the other, mechanically.
"Thought you said it was Lamb; but never
mind. There ain't no use lookin* furder ; the
acid has eat it all up. Sorry if its strapped
you. If you *re specially hard put, I can lend
ye a dollar."
"A dollar!" almost shrieked the sufferer. "Do
you know what I have lost.^ There were forty
thousand dollars in that bag! I have spent years
in gaining them. I have lied, cheated, lived a
420 HIS OPPORTUNITY
hypocrite, struck hands with sharpers and thieves,
and oppressed the helpless, to gain that, and now
it is all gone!"
" That *s worse than bein* a laborer in the
kimical-works," was the remark.
But his sarcasm was not heeded. The other,
with bowed head, with a look of unrelieved
hopelessness, went and sat down in front of
the furnace, buried his face in his hands, and
indulged in bitter reflections.
TRYING IT ON. 421
REAT changes often come quietly. With a
certain apprehension the file-hands received
the news that Chamberlain had been placed at
the head of the business. There was, at first,
a feeling that he had been playing the spy,
until it was known that Robert Flint had ar-
ranged the whole affair, and then they were
satisfied. "Old Skinflint" always got ahead of
the help when he was alive, and, though dead,
he still kept up his reputation, was the univer-
sal thought. That the advent of a new "boss,"
up in all the mysteries of the trade, acquainted
with the many means of shirking that were
among the men, aware of the "soft jobs" and
the lax habits, should affect them all, was highly
To many, the fact that Chamberlain was a
"church-member" was most unpleasant. Some
4^2 If IS OPPORTUNITY.
sincerely believed that all piety was a sham.
Their learning, drawn from such living epistles
as Lamson, was faulty, but honest. Divided in
opinion, the operatives held long and serious
consultations. The boiler-room, the coal-yard, the
slag-heaps, were debating grounds, where word-
battles raged with varying success. Sam Put-
nam, Gaffney, and Tam McDonald, — the last-
named having returned to the mill, — were the
champions of the new order of things. They
had many opponents. Even before a single
change had been inaugurated, the operatives felt
aggressive. They longed for an opportunity
to show their feelings. The changes, however,
came so gradually, so differently from what they
expected, that they did not do themselves jus-
tice, so they thought, which nettled them the
more. In addition to this, the older men were
indignant that a boy should presume to assume
control of a corporation that gray heads had
heretofore managed. If their advdce was asked,
they intended to let him know how they felt.
But the opportunity, much to their chagrin, did
not present itself. The days passed, the work
went on, and the men found other things to
grumble about. The wave of excitement spent
itself without doing damage.
When the business was well running again,
TRYING IT ON. 4^3
and all seemed propitious, Chamberlain one
evening sent word to the various heads of de-
partments, that he wished to meet them in the
packing-room after the whistle blew. It was
with some uneasiness that most of them gath-
ered in the spacious room. They were not kept
waiting long. Advancing from the office, the
** new boss " stood before the group, and at
once plunged into his theme.
"It is customary," he said, "for all concerns
doing business to have certain rules, — not to
crowd the help and get as much as possible
out of them, but that they may know just
what they are expected to do. The employes
have their rights, and the corporation has its
rights. A schedule of minor rules has already
been drawn up and printed. It relates to the
time for coming and going, the rights of time-
workers and piece-hands, and has already been
seen by those of you whose departments it
touches. There is, however, one rule that I
have not caused to be printed, but the enforce-
ment of which I deem most important."
Chamberlain paused for an instant, and meas-
ured the men before him with a keen glanca
He saw an enmity in some faces, an indiffer-
ence in others, a fear in a few. One or two
424 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
"The rule of which I speak will, doubtless,
seem to many of you to be arbitrary, but to
the management it is believed to be necessary.
It is this : After this week, no drinking men
will be employed by this company, in any ca-
pacity. We have, as I have already stated,
weighed this matter with extreme care. /Iny
thing that we can do to break the chain of
habit that binds some of the help, will be done,
but from henceforth, this corporation intends
to discourage the use and the sale of ardent
spirits to the very best of its ability. Sober
men will be valued — will be assisted in every
way that is in our power. Unsteady men,
'spreers,* can neither expect work in the mill,
nor shelter in the company's tenements. This
rule has not been drawn up thoughtlessly. Its
enforcement will, we trust, result in the greatest
good that this village has ever enjoyed. The
love of liquor is a disease, the worst disease
this world has ever known. To eradicate it
thoroughly from Steelville, stem measures are
"I have gathered the superintendents and
foremen of this establishment, not to harshly
announce a rule that may seem to abridge per-
sonal liberty, but to claim your sympathy and
assistance. No sane man could live on Steep
TRYING IT ON. 425
Street a day, and not appreciate the curse that
broods over it. No reasonable man in all this
great establishment will deny the harm that the
drinking habits are inflicting upon the operatives.
The wrecks of homes, and the wrecks of human
beings, men, women, and even little children,
can be daily seen. Steep Street, the most
wretched settlement the sun ever shone upon,
poisoned, degraded, by continual drunkenness,
calls to us for help. We alone, under God,
can give it assistance.
" If there are any here who are not willing
to help, who will see souls perish rather than
throw the weight of their influence on the
right side, let them assert it. We shall under-
stand, by your presence in the mill, that you
bind yourselves to carry out the rules of the
corporation. And not only that, but we shall
expect from you all an earnest sympathy, an
untiring vigilance, and all possible aid in fur-
thering this best gift to those under your im-
Chamberlain paused, having spoken longer
than was his first intention. A rigid silence had
prevailed in the room throughout it all. The
faces of the men, whether stolid or expressive,
told of surprise, and, in some cases, of rebellion.
When he had ceased speaking, there was an
426 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
uneasy movement, and then one who had been,
for years, a department superintendent, stepped
forward as if to speak. He was a tall, broad-
shouldered, noble-looking old man. He was
known as an impressive speaker, a keen debater.
Clearing his throat, he said, in a deep, resonant
voice, and, perhaps, a touch of condescension, — •
" Mr. Chamberlain, I think that the energy
of your character, that your earnest wish to be
a reformer, is leading you into a serious mis-
take. You are fresh from school. It is natural
that you should look upon the men gathered
here as school-boys of a larger growth, but
there you are wrong. A school-boy can claim
no liberty beyond that granted by pedagogue or
parent, — a laborer can. He has arrived at
man's estate, and is jealous of all his rights
and privileges. Any attempt to curtail his lib-
erty in the slightest is immediately resented.
There are, among us, men from England, from
Germany, from Russia, from oppressed Ireland,
who have come here to be free. Your laws
might do in a land where despotism prevailed,
but here they can never succeed. All will
rebel. I am an old man, Mr. Chamberlain. My
gray hairs will protect me in saying what
younger men could not say. I, too, have the
interest of the operatives at heart. I, too, de-
TRYING IT ON. A^7
spise che rum-bottle. It is my belief, however,
that a man has a right to destroy himself by
debauchery, if he wishes. In this country he is
his own master. You have made a strong and
beautiful garment of these rules, Mr. Chamber-
lain, but it won't fit Steep Street, and I beg
that you will not try it on."
Th,ere was a tendency to applaud among the
small audience, but Chamberlain's reply checked
"Every man has a right, in a certain sense,
to degrade himself as much as he wishes.
That, however, is not germane to this question.
We are discussing, rather, the rights of the
corporation. We claim, and justly> that we can
hire whom we please. We choose, hereafter, to
employ sober men. All are at liberty to drink
if they wish, but not in our work-rooms, in
our tenements, nor in our village."
"Mr. Chamberlain," said Wilcox, a black-eyed,
wiry little man, a hard worker, and an occa-
sional hard drinker, "are you not coming down
on us a little bit suddenly.? We thought you
were our friend. A good many of the boys
have been thinking seriously of leaving off
drinking, but I am afraid this will anger them.
You can't drive a man into goodness. If he
goes at all he must be led."
428 ms OPPORTUNITY.
"Mr. Wilcox, were you aware that the fact
that the liquors that are drunk in the mill cost us
yearly a large sum for insurance ? That we pay
a heavier rate than any other file-manufactory in
the country? Did you know that respectable
companies were afraid to insure our tenements,
occupied, as they are in some cases, by families
made crazy through drink ? Do you remember
the fire in Number Nine, that cost us ten
thousand dollars ? The right to drink rum in
the mill was the cause of that fire. Do you
remember when the * three-chimney tenement-
house * burnt, sacrificing two lives } It was set
by a drunken filp-grinder. It cost the company
two thousand dollars. Were you aware that in
the past two years thousands of dollars* worth
of file-stock has been wasted and destroyed by
workmen, who were skilful when sober, but
bunglers wh/^n drunk 1 Are not these reasons
enough co warrant any business house in pro-
tecting itself } Let me assure you all most earn-
estly that my interest in the men has not ceased,
that I will do all I possibly can. Every man in
the mill may consider me his personal friend. I
earnestly believe that the most confirmed sot
among us will be benefited by this rule."
"Going to be pretty tough on them that live on
'iquor," remarked another. " There are men in
TRYING IT ON. 429
the mill here, to my certain knowledge, — good,
reliable fellows, — that can no more do without
their daily drink than they could without their
daily breath. If they gave up liquor they would
die in a week. They have worked faithfully, year
in and year out, till they have grown gray in
the service. They have done much to build up
this 'ere business. Seems as if they might have
some tapering-off rule."
Sam Putnam answered this, —
"Boys," he said, in his old-time, hearty way,
"what bosh it is to talk of a man dying for
want of liquor, and you know it ! When these
old rummies, that are fairly pickled in whiskey,
are * up for thirty days,' do they die } Yet
they have to do without liquor. The fact of it
is, more than half of us have got an awful
hankering after the ardent, and we are ashamed
to own it. We might just as well be men and
face it and fight it, and thank God we have
got a boss to help us. It is time some sort of a
change came to Steep Street. I have done my
share in dragging the folks of this village down,
and now I am going to turn round and drag
them up. It is a fight with me every day of
my life, to keep free from liquor. I never, till
lately, realized that I had such an appetite.
That it can be conquered, I have daily proof. I
430 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
don't believe in molly-coddling a set of old men
into poisoning themselves to death, and you
don't. I don't think that anybody's liberties are
trampled on when rum is forbidden, any more
than I do when a law is made against picking
pockets, or committing murder, and you don't.
If we don't kill rum, rum will kill us."
As there seemed nothing further to say, the
men, with Chamberlain's permission, dispersed.
When they were fairly outside of the mill
premises, the restraint that his presence
imposed, gave way. Very freely they talked, —
most excitedly they debated the question. The
almost unanimous verdict was against the new
method of procedure.
"I tell you," said Chapman, stroking his gray
beard, "that boy don't appreciate the situation.
He is puffed up by being boss. His scheme
won't work. Just let him try it on."
"He will try it, he is gritty enough to do
most any thing," said Wilcox.
"Yes," was the sage answer. "No doubt he
will try it, but how long will it last } Not two
weeks. It will begin with a great rush and
crash and clang, and then die right down into
nothhig. Men will have rum. Nothing, in my
opinion, can quench the appetite. This boy boss
of outs thinks a few threats will scare the taste
TRYING IT ON. 43 ^
out of the guzzlers' mouths. That is a taste
that has come to stay."
•*I tell you, Chapman," interrupted Sam Put-
nam, "you fellows that don't drink a drop, and
yet are always helping others to, are, in my es-
timation, the meanest sort of men. You are worse
than the rumsellers. They advise a man to drink
that they may make a living ; you do it for
nothing. You talk about rum-drinking coming to
stay; there is something mightier than that has
arrived. The temperance movement, under the
leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ, has
arrived here in Steelville. It has not come for
a little while. It is n't going to stop only just
as long as our boss is interested in it ; it has
come for good; it has come to stay."
"Amen," said Gaffney.
It was four o'clock in the afternoon. The
regular, pulsing throb of the mighty engines, the
confused din of the steel-working machines, came
at intervals through the opening and closing
doors of the factory, to the cosy office of the
young mill-owner. Work was pressing. Scores
of orders, as yet unfilled, covered the pages of
the order book. The puddling furnaces, running
to the utmost of their capacity, kept every man
A gray, grizzled Scotchman, a man of power-
432 HTS OPPORTUNITY.
ful build, but bent and warped like some knotty
plank of oak, his face seamed with time-scars
and sin-scars, the great muscles bulging on his
bony arms, his whole face reeking with perspira-
tion, strode to the office door and loudly rapped.
"Come," said Chamberlain.
Pausing on the threshold, he looked aggres-
sively from beneath his bushy eyebrows.
"I'm come to tal yer that the men will no
wark without their liquor," he said, emphasizing
his statement with a vigorous nod.
"Do you mean they cannot, or they will not?"
"The heats have been very severe-this week,"
said Chamberlain, reflectively. "It is hard work.
I appreciate that as much as any one. I ordered
coffee to be served to the men an hour ago.
Was it not done ? "
"Aye," was the savage answer. "They brought
us some milk-and-water stuff, that weakened the
men rather than strengthened them, so we poured
it over the slag-heap. What we want is the real
stuff, and we'll have it, or your wark will no
"Did the men wish you to speak to mc about
this.?" inquired Chamberlain, quietly.
"They did that, and they bade me tell yer,
TRYING IT ON 433
if the liquor was not on hand within the hour,
the furnaces would take care of themselves. Do
you hear that?"
Without answering, the other took up a pen
and began to write. For fully five minutes his
pen scratched busily over the paper; the puddler
watching him with an ugly frown. Becoming
uneasy, at length, he said, —
"What '11 I tell them.?"
"Who.?" was the absent inquiry.
"Why, man alive 1 the men who are aboot to
"I don't know that there is any thing to tell
them. No liquor shall be drunk in the factory,
if not another file is ever made."
With an angry growl, the Scotchman stalked
away. When he was fairly out of sight, Cham-
berlain stepped to the outer office and handed
a slip of paper to one of the clerks. The young
man, taking it, read it through, rose hastily and
went into the small telegraph office that was con-
nected with the mill. Placing his finger on th«
key he wrote, —
"Send the spare puddlers on the night freight.
Meanwhile, around the furnaces, were gathered
an excited company. The puddlers, with one or
434 HIS OPPORTUNITY,
two exceptions, feeling that they had the mill-
owner at their mercy, were determined here to
make a stand and assert their rights.
Without them the mill could not run. Brawny
men, hard drinkers, hard workers, they were, and
as they group'ed themselves about their leader,
who was none other than the Scotchman, they
felt able to battle against all the capital that Steel-
ville possessed. They were not particularly angry
with the "young boss," as they called him.
They were, on the contrary, pleased that they
should have opportunity gently and effectually
to squelch him. After canvassing the matter at
length, it was decided that the puddlers, of all
men in the mill, could best afford to lead the
strike. The new rule was specially hard on
them. Heretofore they had been accustomed to
drink liquor by the quart. Their work being
difficult, they received high pay. There were
none others in the mill who could fill their
places. It was therefore decided that they
should quietly and unostentatiously absent
themselves until the obnoxious law was repealed
It was further decided with deep craft, that all
the other operatives should be in their places
punctually at the usual time, should use up their
stock as rapidly as possible, then stand round
sad and empty-handed, yearning for worL
TRYING IT ON. 435
The morning came. The puddlers remained
at home, complacently smoking. By noon, they
calculated, the stock would be used up, and the
machines stopped for want of work. But the
dinner-whistles blew, the engines started again,
and all through the afternoon the white rings of
steam, puffing from the exhaust-pipes, proved to the
outside world that the strike had stopped not
a single wheel. When night came, and the op-
eratives returned to their homes, it was to dis-
cuss the strangest thing that had ever befallen
them. All who had been near the furnaces
agreed in telling the same story. A band of
men, athletic and vigorous, even more so than
the former company, had suddenly and mys-
teriously filled the places of the strikers.
With accustomed hands they accomplished
the work, displaying an energy and dispatch
that won the respect of all beholders. A silent
company they were, answering no questions,
asking none. For drink using oaten meal and
water, in the strength of which they accom-
plished a third more than had their liquor-
drinking predecessors. The story had flown from
lip to lip throughout the mill. All who could
possibly do so, made excuses for passing by the
furnaces. Even the superintendents and foremen
were as much astonished and as curious as any.
43^ J^IS OPPORTUNITY,
Several of them took occasion to visit the
office, hoping that Chamberlain might throw
some light on the subject. But he was so
polite, reticent, and business-like, that none dared
question him. When evening came, therefore,
the whole village knew the story, but not one
could imagine where the strangers came from,
or when or how they had arrived. The very
mystery of the thing struck a chill to the
hearts of the operatives. ^ They were willing to
strike if sure of success, but if their places
were filled as soon as vacant, by better
men than themselves, without a word of protest,
it gave the affair a different aspect. The con-
descending pity with which they had regarded
Chamberlain, was transformed into a most de-
cided respect. The whole village stood, hat in
hand, waiting on his pleasure, where, the day
before, it had merely tolerated him with 'partial
good-nature. The strikers saluted him sheepishly,
having left their confident airs at the feet of
On rolled the wheels of the great mill ;
busily throbbed the engine; like silver bells
rang the myriad hammers, and the work went
steadily on. Except for the occasional discharge
of a drunken man, there were no new develop*
ments. From the moment that the mysterious
TRYING IT ON, 437
puddlers stood in their places, the victory was
won. How much anxiety Chamberlain felt in
this matter no one can ever know. How many
times he had locked himself in his office and
prayed that ignornnt, arrogant Steep Street
might now learn a healthful lesson; how eagerly
had he scanned the faces of the operatives, as
they thronged out through the open doors, to
read, if possible, the success of his experiment !
That it was a master-stroke, the bearing of
each employ^ showed. Now all that he waited
for was the submisson of the striking puddlers.
A week of idleness and reflection was enough
to bring them to terms. One or two single
men, it is true, sought and found work, but the
main body of them were family men, dependent
upon the day's wages, with nothing ahead except
a few bad debts.
It was the brawny Scotchman who made the
£rst advances towards reconciliation. With no
trace of the former aggressiveness, he again
appeared at the office. This time he was neatly
dressed, carefully shaven, exceedingly subdued.
"Good-morning, Mr. Chamberlain," he said,
with an awkward cough.
" Good-morning," was the pleasant reply.
**I thought I would come in and speak with
yc a moment."
43^ ffIS OPPORTUNITY.
A long silence ensued. Chamberlain, alrnough
deeply interested in the visit, did not think it
advisable to smooth the path that the strikers
" Mr. Chamberlain," said the old man, at
length, "rum makes fules of mony men. I Ve
a wife and bairns at home. They have no
bread. Sic a fule as they have for a provider,
who threw up a good job at the call of his
worst enemy, rum! Have you no wark that you
can give us foolish fellows about the mill } "
" You are willing to abide by the rules ? "
"Be in your places Monday morning, all of
Thus dismissed, the Scotchman ponderously
withdrew. The next Monday morning the pud-
dlers, subdued and thankful, took their old sta-
tions, and the work went forward as before.
The strangers, with whom none of the opera-
tives had been able to form acquaintance, who
had boarded at the teamster's, adjoining the
mill, had disappeared as suddenly as they ar-
The mystery connected with them wonderfully
impressed the mill folk. It gave them an im-
pression of unlimited resources at the disposaJ
TRYING IT ON 439
of their employer. Most thoroughly was their
lesson learned. A long stride in the right di-
rection was made by this management of the
affair. There was, of course, a certain amount
of liquor consumed by stealth in the mill set-
tlement, but in comparison with that formerly
used, it was as nothing.
As the people became sober, their interest in
the mission increased. The little room that had
once been Temple's store was crowded. Pfaff's
building, which was larger and more convenient,
was therefore taken. Among those whose testi-
monies swayed the audience, and brought many
forward as signers of the temperance pledge, were
Temple, Gaffney, and Putnam. To these might
be added Tam McDonald, Chamberlain, and the
Rev. Charles Snow. These six speakers were
always heard and welcomed.
Daily the interest grew. Steep Street, at last
aroused to her condition, was vigorously bestir-
ring herself to shake off the shackles of sin.
Those who had never heard a sermon were at-
tending the meetings. Aged reprobates, whose
lives had been spent in scoffing, were on their
knees. The work was begun. Earnest, prayerful
hearts were pledged to carry it on. No failure
could come except through their want of faith.
440 HIS OPPORTUNITY.
STOUTISH man, with steel blue eyes and
red whiskers, dressed in a suit of faded
blue, wearing linen that bore the stains of travel,
was walking up the main street of a New Eng-
land factory village. With an air of easy assur-
ance, he looked around at the neat cottages of
the laborers, at the carefully-kept gardens, at the
rows of shade-trees that adorned the level road.
Stopping in front of a cottage a trifle more pre-
tentious than the rest, he spoke to a man who
was busily pruning a tiny hedge.
"Is this the mill-village of Steelville .? " he in-
The person to whom this was addressed straight-
ened up, and said, with good nature, —
'*Yes, sir; that's just what it is."
** I never should have known it," said the
stranger. "I was tolerably familiar with the place
ten years ago."
"Perhaps you know me; most of the people in
the village did. My* name is Sam Putnam. Did
you ever hear it .^ " said the other.
The other shook his head slowly, saying, —
"I have a poor memory for names."
"But I have an excellent one," returned Put-
nam. "Might I inquire yours?"
The stranger drew from his pocket a soiled
card, and handed it over the fence. Upon it was
printed "Mr. J. Winslow Smith, Phrenologist."
With a look of contempt, Sam handed it back.
"What was your name ten years ago," he
The stranger started, but recovering himself,
said, with gentle suavity, —
"I was then J. Winslow Smith, book-agent.
Ten years of study in foreign lands have fitted
me to practise my vocation. Having some ac-
quaintance in Steelville, and being on my way
to the great metropolis, I concluded to make a
call upon this, my old home."
"What were the names of your friends.?" in-
Mr. Smith made no reply. Instead, he sighed
deeply and glanced toward the spire of the church
showing faintly through the trees.
"There have been remarkable changes here,"
44^ ^/^ OPPORTUNITY.
" Well, I should rather think so. This does n'l
look much more like old, dilapidated Steep Street
than the New Jerusalem looks like the City of
"It must have cost something. How was it
done } Who paid the bills .<* " inquired Smith, with
a touch of acrimony in his voice.
" Oh, the File Company in part, and the people
in part," said Sam, answering the last ques-
tion. "As you no doubt remember, the old settle-
ment was on a steep hillside, — so steep that peo-
ple had to wear spikes in their shoes to keep
fpom sliding down into the river. There was no
chance for gardens, nor room for any thing out
doors but children and goats. Mr. Chamberlain,
who had just taken charge of the file-works yon-
der, saw that on this side of the river was room
for the most beautiful, level village that was ever
laid out. It was, to be sure, covered with thick-
ets and away from the main road. He had the
land surveyed into house-lots, laid out roads, built
a new bridge, and had the thickets cut off, and
began to put up cottages. These he rented
to the help. Mighty glad they were to get
them. As fast as the old tenement-houses were
emptied they were pulled down. 'Bug Palace,'
the worst of the lot, burned one cold winter
"I suppose he built the church," said Mr.
Smith, with a sneer.
"He helped, but the people did most of it.*'
" Steep-street people build a church ! "
" Certainly ; why not ? "
" I should as soon think of Satan preaching
the Gospel. Why, they were the most drunken,
degraded, unchristian set that were ever drummed
" I know they were, but it was rum that did
it all. When that was removed, the people were
"Wasn't it a difficult thing to stop the drink-
"It was that. It took two years to get it
fairly under, not to speak of the two years
that Mr. Chamberlain put in before that, under
old Lamson," said Sam.
" Who was this Lamson } " inquired J. Winslow
Smith, with interest.
"He was the agent, who took charge of the
mills after the death of Robert Flint."
"Was he smart?"
" Not very ; he was too much of a hypocrite.
He had an idea that he could cheat the Lord
as easily as he could his fellow-men ; but a judg-
ment fell on him. He got found out, and had
to leave the country."
444 HIS UPi*ORTUNITY,
" Good enough for him ! '* was the pious re-
For some minutes after this, neither of the
men said a word. Putnam resumed his work,
and the clipping of the huge shears was the only
noise that broke the stillness.
"Would it be possible for a person to get a
little liquor for ' medicine, here } " finally asked
" No, sir t Not a drop of liquor can be ob-
tained ill the village. Why, the people hate it
now worse than the young boss does. I believe
they would mob a man for bringing a quart into
town ! " was the emphatic reply.
"I don't understand how this came about,"
said Smith, with a ring of sincerity in his
"It is a problem that a good many gave up,"
replied Putnam. "Lots of people think liquor-
drinking can not be successfully handled, either
by law or by moral suasion. Mr. Chamberlain's
experiment with this village has proved them
wrong. He made use of both. Where persua-
sion would not avail, he substituted the strong
arm of the law. This is now a gospel-temper-
ance, prohibition town. It has its schools, its
libiary, its debating club, its literary circle, its
church, and not a single liquor-saloon. This vil-
lage has rij?en in answer to prayer; not that we
prayed, and did nothing else, but prayer and
work went hand in hand, and God blessed them,
as he always does."
Mr. Smith was somewhat uneasy under this
temperance lecture. He fidgeted as if it made
him uncomfortable. When it was finished, he
asked one more question.
"Are the file-works making money .^"
"More than ever before. The goods that arc
now turned out are first-class — the best in the
market, and command a good price. Orders are
'way ahead. I tell you, stranger, there are few
men that possess the honest purpose, and the
real ability, that Boss Chamberlain has."
Thanking the good-natured giant for his in-
formation. Dr. Smith walked slowly on through
the village. As he neared the neat iron bridge
that led over the river to the file-works, a
buggy drawn by two spirited horses passed him.
In it were a gentleman and lady and a little
boy of five or six. The gentleman, with all the
courtesy of a village king, bowed to the stranger
who looked so eagerly and keenly at him. The
salute was not returned. The benignant doctor,
his heavy brows lowering with an ugly frown,
strode across the bridge, by the busy factories^,
and out of sight
44^ HIS OPPORTUNITY.
In the stately study of the old Flint mansion
sat Tom Chamberlain, older than when we last
saw him, thicker set, but still young, vigorous,
" Miriam," he said, addressing the lady who
was reading near him, "whom do you suppose
Putnam declares he saw in the village to-day?"
"I*m sure I can not tell."
" He says our old friend Lamson paid us a visit."
"What did he want?" asked the young wife.
"I imagine he expected at first to find Steep
Street as ignorant and degraded as ever. He is
going about the country as traveling phrenologist,
calling himself Doctor Smith. Putnam's opinion
is that he expected to examine heads here, but
finding rum and ignorance had departed, had not
the courage to practise his quackery."
"It could not have been he," said Miriam.
"Putnam must be mistaken."
"I think he is right, my dear. He never for-
gets faces, or voices, and he is very positive in
"How fortunate that his poor, dear mother
can never know I Do you remember, Tom, how
her last prayers were for her boy?"
"I know it. The mother-love never changes.
Perhaps those prayers may yet be answered.
Who knows ? "
"How can it be possible that he has fallen
so low?" mused Miriam.
"I suppose it is an old-fashioned belief that
isuch things come as judgments, yet I cannot
but think that Lam son's failure is directly trace-
able to wrong-doing in business. The opportu-
nity was given him to raise fallen Steep Street.
None knew the right way better than he. De-
liberately, he turned his back on it, and the
Lord gave the work to others. Not that it is
an unusual offense. This sin of neglect seems
to be one of the greatest, as well as the most
common. Its punishment is as sure as those of
other sins. Even in this world, swift retribution